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Peterson AFB Trains Crews For Fighting Fires

Published On: Apr 23 2012 04:44:50 AM CDT   Updated On: Apr 24 2012 07:12:24 AM CDT

Colorado Air Force Reservists participated in the annual Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) training, hosted by the 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base.

The training is sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service, and provides classroom and flight certification for military crews, civilian lead plane pilots and other support personnel.

During the training, C-130s are equipped with specially designed U.S. Forest Service MAFFS units. These units are capable of dropping up to 3,000 gallons of retardant or water to assist fighting forest and grass fires.

Lieutenant Colonel David Condit, of the 302nd Airlift Wing, said it takes about 2 1/2 hours to install one of the units into an aircraft, but only 12 minutes to load the unit with retardant or water.

?The equipment going into the back is really new and is really some of the top performing fire equipment out there,? said Condit.

Condit said the crews flying the C-130s are not fire experts, and therefore require additional assistance from a smaller plane, usually piloted by a civilian.

?The little plane is the lead plane. That?s a fire behavior expert that does nothing but firefighting and that person works with us to lead us in on a fire drop so we can be efficient and safe,? said Condit.

Condit said the flight missions are especially hazardous due to the fact that the planes are ?low, slow and heavy.?

?We?re very low, 150 feet above the ground. We?re close to stall speed and we?re at a maximum gross weight. So, that just means that it?s a difficult mission and requires particular attention to what we?re doing,? said Condit.

Condit said they choose the most experienced pilots to fly these types of missions, but told KRDO Newschannel 13 that training is very important.

?We normally have a military mission, we don?t normally go out and do fire fighting. So, it?s important to make sure we?re up to speed by the time we get out on a fire,? he said.

The training began Friday and lasted though Monday. During the training, Condit said about 60 missions involving dispensing potable water on target sites in the Pike-San Isabel National Forest and military ranges were carried out.


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