As knowledge of the shut down of the Global SuperTanker by parent company, investment firm Alterna Capital LLC increases, so too does the public anger at the lack of support for VLAT Tanker 944. The largest aerial asset in the world. Hundreds of posts on social media over the last week have expressed dismay at the loss of the GST or shared stories of success on fairgrounds, largely attributed to the arrival or use of Tanker 944.
Alterna, having pulled the plug on the aircraft before the start of this year’s fire season and after the installation of a digital drop system, installed to meet and exceed any requirements placed by local, state, federal, and international certification bodies has confused many and convinced others that their assumptions that the aircraft was too expensive to use were vindicated.
Others upset by the grounding of Tanker 944 have taken to the internet to start petitions to save the Global SuperTanker, like one started by Megan Berger and Allison Walsh, the latter who runs a Facebook page dedicated to Wildfire and Weather who is also an avid supporter of the Global SuperTanker. “I was raised in Sonoma County and lived there for 30 years. Year after year, someone I know loses a home to wildfires as they begin creeping into residential areas. Every year I go out with a camera and report and the devastation while keeping thousands calm as I report as best I can what’s going on, with worst-case and best-case scenarios. Then there’s that huge sign of relief when we hear that the 747 SuperTanker is going to come and help. It’s hope, it’s progress, it can stop the forward progress of fires. It saves homes and lives,” said Walsh in her plea to save Tanker 944.
Tributes also poured in from fellow operators in the industry praising the work of the teams at Global SuperTanker who fought alongside each other on many fires in California and around the world.
While the future looks bleak for the Global SuperTanker, many are still hoping for an 11th-hour reprieve that may see the aircraft remain as an aerial firefighting asset, although other options being floated by aviation sources say if Tanker 944 does not remain an aerial firefighter, it may be returned to the cargo configuration it was received in its previous life as a commercial cargo plane for Japan Airlines.