C-130 MAFFS air tanker goes down in South Dakota

MAFFS C-130 air tanker
MAFFS C-130 air tanker
A MAFFS C-130 air tanker at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs,  June 27, 2012. Photo by Staff Sgt Stephany Richards

(We have updated information on the incident HERE, July 2, 2012.)

A C-130 military air tanker air tanker *”went down” in South Dakota late Sunday afternoon. Fox News and the Rapid City Journal are reporting that two or three survived — reports differ about the number. The incident was confirmed by Pat Cross, a spokesperson for the Incident Management Team assigned to the White Draw fire northeast of Edgemont, South Dakota. It is believed that the air tanker had been working on that fire.

A helicopter was able to land near the site and fly the injured crewmembers to Custer. From there they were transported to Rapid City Regional Hospital for further medical treatment, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The C-130 usually carries a crew of six. The additional members of the crew are unaccounted for.

The aircraft was outfitted with a Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) in the cargo hold which enables it to operate as an air tanker, carrying up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant. It was one of eight that have been activated over the last week to help suppress the numerous fires in the western United States.

*(Note: we used the term “went down” because that or “gone down” is the phrase that was used in the early reports, including those from the Fall River County Sheriff’s Office and the Great Plains Dispatch Center in Rapid City. We don’t know the circumstances, and there is a report that it occurred several miles from the White Draw fire.)

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We want to thank the numerous people who reported this to us in comments on other articles and directly over the phone. This notice would have gone up sooner, but we were out in the field covering the Highland and Oil Creek fires.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

18 thoughts on “C-130 MAFFS air tanker goes down in South Dakota”

  1. Not what I wanted to go to bed on. condolences and
    prayers to all involved…
    Know too many who have stepped into that clearing…

  2. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends, and fellow Officers and Airmen of those lost and injured this early evening.

  3. My thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to the families…So very sad and heart wrenching..

  4. Thoughts And Prayers For The Crew And There Familys. I Also Have Two Brothers Out On That Same Fire.

  5. We used the term “went down” because that or “gone down” is the phrase that was used in the early reports, including those from the Fall River County Sheriff’s Office and the Great Plains Dispatch Center in Rapid City. We don’t know the circumstances, and there is a report that it occurred several miles from the White Draw fire.

  6. Our son is with this group that just got to Colorado Saturday. We received a call around 10 p.m. (EST) telling us not to worry if we saw something on the news as one of their planes had just gone down. He was not flying with that crew. They were headed out to look for the plane so could not talk to us other than to tell us he was okay. Truely, a godsend for us but such heartbreak for some of our other families. We are anxiously awaiting news as to the fate of crew.

    1. I received the same phone call more times than I’d like to count. I am so very sorry for the crew and their families. Praying for the safety of all of our firefighters.

  7. Very sad news indeed Praying for all those involved! The plane was out of Charlotte NC Air National Guard base…Aircraft #7

  8. The plane was MAFFS #7 from Charlotte?? I didn’t hear that information had been released yet. I hope the families of the crew didn’t read that here first.

  9. My brother-in-law had been with the Guard for the past 37 years and on the MAFFS unit. I know some of what they do and how they sacrifice each and every time they fly a mission or fight a fire. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to all the MAFFS units right now and especially to the families of North Caroline.

  10. Deeply sad for the loss of my fellow Airmen from the 145th AW [NCANG] who lost their lives in service to This Great Nation. My prayers are offered for our departed team members and for their families, God Bless them each and every one.

  11. I pray each day for the safety of our firefighters and service men and women. Fires are just like war and I deeply admire each and every man and woman who risks their life for our country each and every day. My deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the C-130 crew who lost their lives. May God bless you all.

  12. Our prayers are with the injured airmen and the families of those who passed in the C-130 crash north of Edgemont, SD.
    We are eating smoke here today from the Oil Creek, Wyoming fire–now at 7000 acres plus. And, our prayers are with the men and women fighting that one, too.

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