At Ease | The Rise of a Fire Pilot

IF, God forbid, a small curl of smoke on our Blue Mountain Range grew into a full-on mountain fire, and CalFire attack planes bloated with fire retardant were called in, Jimmy Ferreira could be in the driver’s seat. After 2021, that seat could be in one of seven military workhorses recently acquired by CalFire—the four- engine C-130. The venerable Air Force transports are so new to CalFire that it could take until 2021 to modify them to flying fire trucks, with plumbing, tanks and new technology. Last week, Ferreira became C-130-rated to pack 4,000 gals. of retardant into the belly of the beast.

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