Thursday, July 05, 2012

An Update on the MAFFS Crash

Four Air Guardsmen Died in C-130 Firefighting Crash: Four members of the North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing in Charlotte died when their Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped C-130 crashed on July 1 while fighting a woodland fire in southwestern South Dakota. Two other crewmembers, whom officials are not naming, were injured in the crash and hospitalized, according to the North Carolina National Guard's July 3 release. The deceased are: Lt. Col. Paul K. Mikeal, 42, of Mooresville, N.C.; Maj. Joseph M. McCormick, 36, of Belmont, N.C.; Maj. Ryan S. David, 35, of Boone, N.C.; and SMSgt. Robert S. Cannon, 50, of Charlotte. "Words can't express how much we feel the loss of these airmen," said Brig. Gen. Tony McMillan, 145th AW commander. "Our prayers are with their families, as well as our injured brothers as they recover." Mikeal was an evaluator pilot with the 156th Airlift Squadron. McCormick was an instructor pilot with the squadron. David was a navigator with the squadron. Cannon was a flight engineer serving with the 145th Operations Support Flight. The cause of the crash is unknown and is under investigation. (See our initial coverage.)
RIP Lt. Col. Mikeal; Maj. McCormick; Maj. David; and SMSgt. Cannon.  Our heart goes out to your families.

MAFFS Back in the Firefighting Fray: After a one-day standdown on July 2, the Air Force's small fleet of Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped C-130s resumed flight operations to help battle wildfires in Colorado and several northwestern states. As of early morning on July 4 local time, these airplanes, which began operating on June 25, had conducted a total of 105 airdrops and discharged more than 270,000 gallons of fire retardant on the flames in parts of Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming, said US Northern Command officials in a release. These MAFFS C-130s are assigned to Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command units. They've been operating out of Peterson AFB, Colo., and Cheyenne, Wyo. The one-day suspension of flight operations came after the crash of one of these C-130s on July 1 during a firefighting mission in South Dakota that claimed the lives of four of the six crewmembers. (See our initial coverage.)
One-day standdowns are common after any aircraft accident that involves fatalities.  It just goes to show that the flyin' bid'niz is a dangerous bid'niz, especially one that involves a great deal of low-altitude flyin' under less than optimum conditions.


  1. I have good friends in NM who fight fires all over the West during fire season - a very dangerous business. My heart goes out to the families for their loss.

  2. When I heard of the crash I though maybe they had a structural problem, but since they put them back in the air, it must have been a procedural error.


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