News: NCANG flight crews conduct annual fire fighting this week
CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Less than a year after a devastating crash that killed four of its members and injured two others while battling a fire over South Dakota, the Charlotte-based 145th Airlift Wing of the North Carolina Air National Guard is leading the spring Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) training here this week.
"Our people are the commend element," said Col. Charles Davis of Charlotte, commander of the 145th Air Expeditionary Group. "We're proud to lead this elite group of men and women in this important homeland security mission."
Charlotte has two MAFFS-equipped aircraft, one support aircraft and 87 airmen deployed here.
North Carolina provides one of only four units that fly the MAFFS mission, all from the reserve component, not the active-duty Air Force. The others are the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard, which is taking part in this week's training; the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard and the 302nd Airlift Wing, U.S. Air Force Reserve, based at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. The four units alternate command of the MAFFS mission.
MAFFS uses military C-130 aircraft with a U.S. Forest Service-owned slide-in module positioned in the cargo bay. The units are filled with 3,000 gallons of fire retardant or water which is dropped on the leading edge of a wildland fire. Once the load is discharged, and the aircraft returns to base, ground crews can refill the module in less than 12 minutes. MAFFS is a joint Department of Defense and U.S. Forest Service program designed to provide additional aerial firefighting resources when commercial and private airtankers are no longer able to meet the needs of the forest service.
The training this week began Monday and will end Friday. Sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service, the training includes classroom sessions, flight training and the annual MAFFS mission recertification for flight crews, civilian aviators who lead the MAFFS aircraft over forest fires and the Airmen who support the mission on the ground.
Each MAFFS module has a unique number. North Carolina flies modules eight and nine, and its planes have the corresponding number emblazoned on the fuselage in bright orange. The crash that took the lives of four North Carolina MAFFS Airmen occurred in MAFFS 7. The 145th Airlift Wing retired the MAFFS 7 designation at a ceremony at its Charlotte base last summer.
EDITORS AND PRODUCERS: To view video (b-roll) with natural sound of this training, visit: http://www.dvidshub.net/video/289376/2013-modular-airborne-firefighting-system-training. High-resolution still photos are available at the 145th Air Expeditionary Group Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/145AEGMAFFS.
For any questions, please contact the North Carolina National Guard Public Affairs Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (919) 664-6242. For more NCNG news, visit our website: www.nc.ngb.army.mil/. To become a Facebook fan of the NCNG, please visit www.facebook.com/NCnationalguard or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NCnationalguard. To view additional pictures from this and other events, visit www.flickr.com/photos/ncngpao.