MAFFS Crews Eager To Fight Another Day
“We’ve dropped on a lot of really big fires, but nothing we’ve seen like this.” That’s a comment from Wyoming Air National Guard Pilot, Maj. Neil Harlow on fire fighting flights over the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs.
Harlow, who’s a pilot with the Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing, says the close proximity to a major city heightens the sense of urgency and the need to get every drop right the first time. He says the front range elevations are the most challenging he’s ever flown.
“The terrain is almost unprecedented. Most of the time we drop on fires at around 8000 feet in elevation. We been dropping up around 10,000- 11,000 feet in elevation on some of these higher fires.”
The Wyoming National Guard’s Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, or MAFFS, can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or retardant in less than five seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once discharged, the load can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.