Talk about low and slow aerial work..
...Evergreen International Aviation says a number of US government agencies are contemplating the use of its 20,000 gallon aerial Boeing 747-100 "Supertanker" for a variety of fairly nasty clean-up jobs in urban America.
Included in the potential uses are dropping decontamination foam in the aftermath of a radiological dispersal device, aka "dirty bomb" or biological weapon of mass destruction.
"We're doing some testing on cloud knockdown, sort of a Chernobyl-type event," says Sam White, Evergreen senior VP. The worst power plant disaster in history, the 1986 Chernobyl reactor failure released a large dose of radioactive fallout in a plume that transported as far away as Northern Europe.
Research at the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) is ongoing to develop foams and gels, which may both knock down the plumes while eliminating the need to resolve the situation the old fashion way - tearing down the buildingings on which the plume falls and starting over again.
According to Technology.com, Darpa has developed a gel composed of the materials used in disposable diapers mixed with nanoscale particles what will coat surfaces after a dirty bomb, pulling out the contaminants. The site says the gel absorbs more than 98% of radioactive atoms in about a half hour on concrete. Crews, heavily garbed, would later mop up the area.
The Supertanker today is on-call for much less nebulous uses by the State of California -- fighting forest fires. For fires, which the jumbo jet has not yet been called up on to do in the state, the Supertanker carries a mixture of water and foams or gels that when dropped act as a flame retardant that creates a "line" 3/4 of a mile long to help stop a fire's progression.
The State of Alaska recently used the Supertanker to drop two loads of retardant on a fire in the Fairbanks area, as shown in the picture above.
Below is a video clip of the Supertanker in action during a demonstration at the Edmonton International Airport in Canada recently.