Thursday, May 01, 2014

Military air tankers readied for wildfire season

CHEYENNE, Wyo.-- More than 200 firefighting pilots and support workers who fly some of the largest retardant-dropping airplanes are training at the National Guard airbase here for the start of the wildfire season. The training focuses on the use of military C-130 cargo planes equipped with U..S. Forest Service-owned water tanks. The tanks can blast 3,000 gallons or water or retardant onto a wildfire in just five seconds. The cargo airplanes carry aloft what's known as a modular airborne firefighting system. Like smaller tankers, the MAFFS drop retardant on wildfires to slow their spread and protect homes. Unlike traditional air tankers, however, the MAFFS teams can only be called into action once all other civilian tankers are either in use or out of service. The four C-130 planes in Cheyenne this week belong to the Wyoming and North Carolina Air National Guard, and the military pilots are training with Forest Service pilots who fly smaller planes used to guide in the tankers...more

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