MAFFS training in Wyoming

MAFFS training at Camp Guernsey, Wyoming,

Wyoming Air National Guard MAFFS training at Camp Guernsey, Wyoming, April 16, 2012. Photo by Mr. Dewey Baars.

Last month the two Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) air tankers based at the Channel Islands Air National Guard base in Port Hueneme, California participated in training for wildfire assignments. This week the two Wyoming Air National Guard MAFFS C-130s based in Cheyenne did the same thing. On Monday through Thursday they loaded the 3,000-gallon tanks with water instead of retardant, and flew 100 miles to practice dropping on the rolling terrain of Camp Guernsey in southeast Wyoming.

Besides the four MAFFS aircraft mentioned above, there are four others in Colorado and North Carolina, for a total of eight. The military C-130s are used only when the commercial air tankers on contract are totally utilized on going wildfires.

An article at has more details about the MAFFS training, and also has this about the federal fleet of air tankers:

…The number of commercial tanker planes under Forest Service contract has declined from 44 in 2002 to 11 this year. The planes are getting old and more expensive to maintain.

Western senators have taken note. Last month, four of them asked the Government Accountability Office to look into whether the Forest Service has done a good job of assessing its aerial firefighting needs.

Last week, Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado also expressed concern about the 1950s-era Lockheed P-2Vs that compose the remaining fleet.

“I am unconvinced the USFS’s current air tanker fleet is prepared to adequately address an immense wildfire or even what is sure to be a long fire season,” Udall wrote to Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

The U.S. Forest Service is eager to work with Congress to develop a quicker and more effective commercial tanker plane fleet, said Tom Harbour, national director of fire and aviation for the Forest Service.

The Forest Service didn’t call on the military planes at all in 2009, he said, and it’s not a certainty it will need to in the months and years ahead.

The Wyoming National Guard produced a 2.6 minute video about the training.

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About Bill Gabbert

Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. If you are interested in wildland fire, welcome… grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up. Google+

2 thoughts on “MAFFS training in Wyoming

  1. MORE Gooood Work, Bill!!

    Tom is “eager” to work with Congress?

    I’d be eager also when I have a coalition of Western Governors looking at my “performance” over the last 4 or so years. I’d be eager to prove how I was working with the US aviation industry with WEEKLY reports on progress. Maybe that is what we need from some of these political appointees drawing large salaries.

    I ‘d also be eager to be givin up that RAND report that I spent $840,000 USD on also.

    Now THERE would be some quotable quotes to look for here in the near future!!! hehehhe

  2. If you believe in fire weather cycles, looking back in my log books fire season 1977 weather was much like this year, 2012. 1977 was a historic long fire season. The list of record setting fires was impressive. The winter of 76/77 was very dry with little grass growth (to carry fire) in California. This years spring rains have added this fuel component. “Didn’t call on the military airplanes at all in 2009………………………”
    Is the management of the F.S. that far out of touch with the trend that has already shown up in Colorado and South Dakota? I like the solicitation for service of “TWO water scooping air tankers” to assist with this years nine fixed wing tankers! Let’s don’t over do it with those-heavier-than air flying machines. CAL FIRE’s (letter) was just kidding about California, the press, politicans and public (3P’s) will make them use their “stuff” on our fires.

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