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Ultimately, the goal is to coalesce international teams of fire specialists to work in conjunction with local fire personnel for the large incidents. Range and speed requirements are such that there are really only two aircraft in the world which can handle this kind of assignment: the C-130 and the IL-76. Locally, the IL-76 can handle 40 fully-equipped smokejumpers in a 100,000 pound liquids haul. If Guy had been reading carefully, he would've noticed the 135,000-pounder is feasible and is in the plan, but has not yet been ordered by the customer.

Ideally, the IL-76 will be used radiologically, pre-positioned from strategic runways in any part of the world, ready for the seasons anywhere; not called out from Russia as it has been for Turkey, Croatia, and, of course, Greece and called up/down for Los Alamos.

It's a rough, tough, fix 'n fly aircraft attested to by interviews I have had not only with the Russians, but with NATO people, including an aircraft mechanic working with the aircraft in Bosnia. STOL is possible in low-load situations.

Second; to clear my name, I must say I have never rec'd email from Guy. I answer everything I get, usually within hours of receipt. Guy's may have been that one in a million e-mail that doesn't go through. If Guy questions the use of a Hotmail account perhaps it's because he doesn't know the spam repercussions of using online communications for trade.

As for my workload, I spend upwards of 60 low overhead hours/week online. Much of my stuff is international although lately there has been quite a bit of US work. I'm in Calgary and fire activity has so far been lower in Canada this year but Halifax, Nova Scotia has had recent a suburban evac. We did a TV thing here and had an international publication accept another June article. Always something we can work on.

I'm glad TJ cleared up the outstanding misconceptions about the IL-76. Nothing speaks more true than firefighting experience and some time to put security-threatening fire situations cropping up all over the world into some kind of context so we can define these basic choices about how we're going to handle the problem.

I had the pleasure of doing test and demo work with Aussies on the project. AFAC caused the a/c to receive its certification for MONSANTO PHOS CHEK 881 in Moscow in '95. I attended an airshow in Australia where, after seeing the IL-76 perform (in a program with a smaller airtanker), people asked me "when", not "if" the IL-76 was coming downunder to help out. The progam man in the tower at AirShows DownUnder announced to the crowd he "never thought the aircraft would ever stop dropping water".

The aircraft is truly an exciting and powerful one to watch. If you visit the waterbomber site, and you have a good eye for aircraft in small videos (and some patience for the download) you'll see just how maneuverable this aircraft is post-offload. Not only does she offload low, slow, and pitch-steady, with an exceptional power-to-weight ratio, the thrust of the 4 jet engines, and special leading-edge wing designs, she handles out of a situation like a fighter-jet.

It's a damn shame the US hasn't worked something out with the Russians anticipating situations like the $600m Los Alamos disaster and the painful multibillion dollar Florida episode of '98. Would have worked like a charm on both incidents.

Here's the rundown on Florida '98, just for the record:
Worst wildfires in 50 years, 1998. Fires burned 485,000 acres and destroyed more than 300 homes and structures.
Reference: NCDC. 1998. Florida Wildfires and Climate Extremes. National Climatic Data Center.
www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ol/climate/research/1998/fla/florida.html

JA