C-130 Firefighting Operations Suspended After Deadly Crash

Air Force officials on July 2 temporarily stood down flight operations of the specially configured C-130s fighting wildfires in several northwestern states to review safety procedures after one of these airplanes crashed on the previous day, killing some of its crew. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who were injured and those who lost their lives,” along with their family members, states a release from the North Carolina Air National Guard’s 145th Airlift Wing, the unit to which the mishap aircraft belonged. The mishap airplane was one of four Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped C-130s operating from Cheyenne, Wyo., when it went down during a mission against the White Draw fire in southwestern South Dakota near the town of Edgemont, according to a US Northern Command release. Four additional MAFFS C-130s have been staging from Peterson AFB, Colo., to battle the fires. NORTHCOM officials said the crash was the first in the 40-year history of the MAFFS program. They were not sure when the MAFFS aircraft would resume flight operations. The airmen battling the fires “are heroes who deserve the appreciation of a grateful nation,” said President Obama on Monday in a statement. (See also Associated Press report, via the Fayetteville Observer.)