In the words of author Stephen King, “Sooner or later, everything old is new again.” On January 25, Tanker 79 made its maiden flight after 22 months of work by DynCorp International (DI) mechanics on the CAL FIRE program in Sacramento, California. The aircraft flew for the first time since 1977, when it was retired by the U.S. Navy.
DI opened the first Work Order on the aircraft in March of 2016.
“The project, dubbed Project X during the conceptual phase, took the aircraft to a barebones airframe and rebuilt it from there,” said Jeff Cavarra, CAL FIRE program director.“DI employees performed all of the work on the aircraft and were assisted by various other vendors who provided engineering and logistical support, and specialized services.”
The rebuilt aircraft included new wiring, structural improvements and modifications, removal of the torpedo bay, installation of the retardant tank, a refurbished hydraulic system, installation of a stand-alone retardant tank hydraulic operating system, modified and overhaul cockpit layout and features, and a new fuel system. It will be available for the 2018 fire season in California and is expected to be based in Hollister, California.
“The success of Project X is a testament to the partnership that DI has with CAL FIRE,” continued Cavarra. “What an amazing accomplishment for these employees and an extraordinary story for DI.”