How to Put Out a Fire Like a Boss

Waterbomber. Yeah, that’s a pretty sweet name. The American designation, as “waterbomber” is the Canadian designation, is “airtanker.” When you are flying a waterbomber or airtanker, you are an aerial firefighter. When you are an aerial firefighter you engage in air attacks, meaning you pour water on a fire. That’s awesome; it makes me want to be an aerial firefighter.

I know my readers will want to know more about waterbombers so let me start with their history. Back in 1947 the first experiments with aerial firefighting took place. After World War II, the United States realized that they had a bunch of perfectly good bombers just lying around. Sure, some of them were converted for other purposes, such as cargo, but one of those purposes was aerial firefighting. Ironically, water bombs were not very efficient so internal water tanks were used instead. The internal water tanks are why you see a deluge of water falling from the planes.

Additionally, there have been quite a few variations of planes used as airtankers because there isn’t a minimum requirement for the water load. Of course, more is better but there isn’t a standard for airtankers. The smallest active airtanker is a Polish plane with a capacity of 570 gallons while the largest is a converted Boeing 747 that holds 20,500 gallons.


Where helicopters can hover and refill its bucket simply by finding the nearest body of water, not all airtankers can refill in mid-flight. The ones that can, like the Bombardier