Colorado Springs-based SuperTanker Helping in Israel Firefight
November 25, 2016
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  • COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) – The Colorado Springs-based Global SuperTanker is starting big for its first firefight since gaining final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

    It has been sent to Israel to battle the wildfires raging in that country.

    Flames swept across Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city, forcing tens of thousands from their homes. The Associated Press reported Friday that the fire inside the city was under control, but that a dozen other fires in the country were still burning.

    As the wildfires rage on, it’s become an international effort to help out. Global SuperTanker CEO Jim Wheeler told 11 News reporter Katie Pelton that he got an urgent message on Thanksgiving Day.

    Crews wasted no time getting the Boeing 747 in the air and across the globe. The aircraft took off from the Colorado Springs Airport Thursday night and arrived in Israel Friday morning.

    The plane is the largest firefighting aircraft in the U.S., capable of dumping nearly 20,000 gallons of retardant, water or foam for up to 4,000 miles. It can be used to fight wildfires or other fires such as on ships, drilling rigs or trains in remote areas. Because it had to get certified, it was not able to be used in the fires that burned in Colorado earlier this year.

    The aircraft received final approval from the FAA in September.

    Now the large bird and her crew are trying to make a dent in the disastrous fires burning overseas. 

    However, a contract with the U.S. Forest Service has yet to be approved, so the SuperTanker currently cannot fight fires burning on U.S. Forest Service land.