An-124 Arrives In San Francisco Carrying Three Fire Trucks

Fighting wildfires is no easy task. So, when the state of California needed some help to combat the devastating blazes, officials worked to get an Antonov An-124 in to carry three fire trucks, a support vehicle, and ten firefighters from New Jersey on September 12th.

Volga Deneper Plane and Truck
A Volga-Dnepr An-124 arrived in San Francisco on Saturday with three fire trucks and other equipment and personnel. Photo: San Francisco International Airport (SFO) via Twitter

Bringing in aid

On September 12th, at about 16:00 local time, an Antonov An-124 arrived down in San Francisco, bringing aid to the region to combat some of the worst wildfires in California’s history. Onboard the aircraft were three fire trucks, a support vehicle, ten firefighters, and other equipment to support operations across the state.

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The aircraft that flew the supplies in was a Volga-Dnepr Antonov An-124, which is, according to Flightradar24, about 24 years old. The plane flew in from Atlantic City, New Jersey, on a flight lasting just under five hours and 45 minutes.

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The flight path for the cargo flight. Photo: Flightradar24

These fire trucks and firefighters will join alongside the thousands of firefighters combating the 29 major wildfires around the state. The Boeing 747 Supertanker, the world’s largest firefighting plane, is also a part of the mission working to quell these fires.

the 747 supertanker
The world’s largest firefighting plane is currently enlisted in the battle against wildfires in California. Photo: Getty Images

Turning skies orange

Over the last few days, the internet was filled with images of flights arriving and departing through an orange sky. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) compared it to “Life on Mars.”

The reason for the orange sky was smoke from the nearby fires around the Bay Area. Though it was a bit ominous and foreboding, flights did continue, and the airport shared plenty of images and videos of operations throughout the day.

Wildfires are not as toxic to aircraft as volcanic ash is known to be. However, they can turn an ordinary flight into a hair-raising experience thanks to reduced visibility from all the smoke, though most flights have continued to operate in and around the Bay Area, even amid the fires. In some instances, if visibility is too low, aircraft will need to divert.

The airline and the plane

Volga-Dnepr is a Russian cargo airline that specializes in carrying heavyweight cargo. According to the airline, the aircraft can carry up to 120 tonnes with a total volume of 1050 cubic meters (about 37,000 cubic feet).

For large pieces of cargo, the An-124 can be loaded through the nose of the aircraft, which can “kneel” down for loading and unloading, which is what the plane did to deliver the fire trucks. The airline has 12 An-124 aircraft.

Volga-Dnepr An-124 Getty
Volga-Dnepr flies 12 Antonov An-124s. Photo: Getty Images

This aircraft is not as massive as the Antonov An-225, but there are more of the An-124s in service than the An-225. Earlier this year, an An-124 flew a train to Chengdu, though that was a different airline operating the flight. Another well-known An-124 flight came back in April when a Russian Air Force jet brought in medical supplies to the New York City area.

Simple Flying extends our thoughts and well wishes to those affected by the ongoing devastation from these wildfires. If you would like to offer your support, organizations ranging from the Red Cross, the United Way Bay Area, and various fire department foundations are taking donations to support those fighting these fires.