ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A one-of-a-kind, life, property, and entire town-saving company is based right here in Albuquerque. Their massive firefighting planes fly all over the country as well as the world.
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Fire seasons are getting longer and more intense, and all throughout, the calls to Albuquerque-based 10-Tanker Air Carrier keep pouring in. “When they have a firefighter or an incident commander on the ground who’s got trouble, they say, ‘can I get a DC-10?'” says John Gould, CEO of 10 Tanker Air Carrier.
Gould says his fleet of completely renovated 737 passenger planes is able to drop three times the amount of retardant than any other firefighting plane. “This has been a big year for us in terms of drops. We’ve dropped up to just over 12 million gallons this year on 1,500 missions that we’ve flown,” Gould says.
Coming off a near-record setting year, Gould says they’re also looking toward the future. “We have no plans to leave Albuquerque. I mean, we like it here. This is our home,” he says.
Within the next few years, Gould plans to add a fifth plane to their current fleet of four and tap further into New Mexico’s local workforce. “We have a great relationship with CNM to pull mechanics out of their school,” Gould says. “They’ve helped us grow and they’ve helped us really well.”
10 Tanker is also looking to hire pilots which could attract people from other states to move to Albuquerque. “Sometimes we hire our pilots out of the fire aviation world, sometimes we hire them out of the big airplane world,” says Gould.
While business is booming for 10 Tanker, Gould says it’s always bittersweet. “It’s bad to see that when we’re busy, there are people suffering on the ground. We never forget that, right?” says Gould. “It’s impossible for our pilots not to look down and see what’s happening on the ground and not understand that – what those folks are going through.”
Gould says they’re glad to be able to help both people. In their home base of New Mexico, and all around the world, “We expect that we’ll be busy again next year, just like we were this year,” he says.
While fire season is over in New Mexico, 10 Tanker is still flying on fires burning in southern California. Once California’s season is over, 10 Tanker will fly anywhere in the world. They’ve already contracted with Australia, Chile, and Bolivia for this winter.