N.C. and Wyoming Air Guard Wrap Up A Week of Aerial Fire Fighting Training

CHEYENNE, Wyo.

Charlotte- and Cheyenne-based Air National Guard air crews and ground support personnel have wrapped up a week of training here today that certified or recertified them to fight forest fires using C-130 aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System known as MAFFS.

"Everyone has worked very hard to get ready for this year's fire season," said Col. Charles Davis of North Carolina's 145th Airlift Wing. Davis is the 2013 commander of the MAFFS Air Expeditionary Group (AEG), which is made up of the four units that operate the fire fighting system.

The 145th deployed two MAFFS-equipped and one support aircraft along with 87 Airmen for the week. It flew 28 training missions over remote areas of Wyoming and Colorado making 184 water drops and logging 54 hours of flying time. The Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing, which hosted the week's training, involved 73 of its Airmen and three aircraft, flew 21 missions and made 189 drops over nearly 27 hours of flying time.

Sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service, MAFFS aircrews spent time in the classroom as well as in the air where they dumped potable water at designated drop sites. Crews operated from an air tanker base set up at the Cheyenne Air National Guard Station here.

MAFFS C-130s are equipped with modules owned by the U.S. Forest Service.

The modules slide into the cargo bays of the aircraft and carry up to 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant, which are dropped on wildland fires.

Forest Service lead planes guide the C-130s to the drop point.

MAFFS is a joint partnership between the Department of Defense and Forest Service and is activated during peak periods of wildland fire activity when all civilian air tanker resources are exhausted. A MAFFS activation is requested by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Id., through U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. NORTHCOM boasts MAFFS will "not be late to the need" when supporting civilian responders.

In addition to the North Carolina and Wyoming units, the 146th Airlift Wing of the California Air National Guard and the 302nd Airlift Wing of the U.S.

Air Force Reserve Command from Peterson in Colorado make up the only four units that perform the MAFFS mission. The 302nd trained in April, and the 146th will begin its annual training May 13.

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Initial story on May 8:

Charlotte Unit Leads Annual Aerial Fire Fighting Training This Week in Wyoming

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.

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Contact: Capt. Rick Scoggins
Phone: (919) 664-6308

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