The heavy hitters in the wildfire fighting game are the MAFFS (Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System) equipped C-130 Hercules cargo planes operated jointly by the National Forest Service, the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves. Since the 1970’s there have been 8 C-130’s so equipped and are operated by the 302d Airlift Wing at Colorado’s Peterson Air Force Base, the Air National Guard’s 153d Airlift Wing from Cheyenne, Wyoming, the 146th Airlift Wing from Port Hueneme, California, and the 145th Airlift Wing from Charlotte, North Carolina. We spoke with MAFFS pilots and crew while they were engaged in firefighting operations in Colorado at Peterson Air Force Base.

Note: The MAFFS equipped C-130 fleet has been temporarily grounded while the recent crash of MAFFS 7 in South Dakota is being investigated. [UPDATE: MAFFS flights have resumed as of Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012] MAFFS 7 is part of the 145th Airlift Wing from Charlotte, NC that had deployed to Colorado on June 30th and had just completed a retardant drop in the White Draw Fire in the southwest corner of South Dakota prior to the crash. For more details on MAFFS 7, click HERE.

Lt. Col Paul Mikeal a C-130 pilot assigned to the 145th Airlift Wing, runs thru the departure checklist before departing for Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., to support fire fighting throughout the Rocky Mountain area using the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System. Mikeal’s family has confirmed that he was among the fatalities in Sunday’s C-130 crash. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Brian Christiansen.


5 Responses to In the Cockpit: C-130 Aerial Firefighters

  1. Mary Ellen Davis says:

    THIS IS SO COOL–I’ve always wondered what the C-130s are like, up close. Thanks for these interviews, and the wonderful aerial footage.

  2. Mary Heimerman says:

    My thoughts an prayers are with Lt. Col. Mikeal’s family. He provided a true service to all of us here, and this final sacrifice is heartbreaking for all of us.

  3. Deb Richardson says:

    NIce interview!

  4. Nancy Atherton says:

    Thank you for giving names and faces to these invisible heroes. I’ll never look at a MAFF run again without thinking of them and the ultimate price they’re prepared to pay to protect us. Rest in peace, Lt. Col. Mikeal.


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