Use Military Planes to Fight Forest Fires

06/27/2014 7:06 AM

06/28/2014 7:18 PM

Nearly every day on television, I see uncontrollable forest fires in the West apparently with the virtual inability to extinguish them quickly. I usually notice a plane dropping a quick dose of fire retardant then departing. Several minutes later, a helicopter does the same. The pattern seems to be repeated with their too infrequent appearances as the conflagration rages.

Serving four years in the Air Force, I visited Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska to look at leftover aircraft from World War II, retired and decommissioned from service. There were hundreds, possibly thousands of them, some apparently still capable of flight.

Is there a shortage of fire retardant? Should we reactivate these aircraft, refit them to allow tons of it to extinguish these voracious fires within hours, not days?

For those who are conscious of this country's spending habits, shouldn't we spend millions to save billions?

-- James Cook, Schaumburg

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