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Quenching the Flames

One of two Modular Airborne Firefighting System (MAFFS) equipped C-130 Hercules aircraft from the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard, lays down a blanket of flame-retardant liquid over a forested area in Southern California. The fires, stoked by 100 mph Santa Ana winds, were categorized as a major disaster. The results were more than 300,000 people driven from their homes and nearly 500,000 acres of woodlands consumed in 12 counties. Also deployed to Southern California were two MAFFS equipped C-130 s from the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard. The four Air National Guard C-130s, staged at Naval Air Station, Point Mugu, flew more than 40 missions in the first week of operations.

The MAFFS, owned by the U.S. Forest Service, is a fire-suppressant apparatus that is loaded into the C-130's cargo area. Consisting of a series of five pressurized tanks, the MAFFS can hold 3,000 gallons of flame-retardant liquid that is dropped along the leading edge of a fire to block the spread of flames. Flown on Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve C-130 aircraft, the aircrews require special training to fly these civil support missions. MAFFS crews are buffeted by thermal gusts, wind, and smoke as they drop their payload while flying between 150 and 200 feet above the ground.

Since 1974, the MAFFS has saved land, lives, and property from wildfires in the U.S. and abroad. Currently there are three Air National Guard C-130 units capable of operating MAFFS. In addition to the 145th AW and the 153rd AW, the 146th AW, California Air National Guard, also flies MAFFS-equipped C-130s. These units continue to stand at the ready to support civil emergencies.

Copyright Notice

Images of these paintings may also be used for educational purposes with an appropriate permission statement, such as: "[name of painting], a National Guard Heritage Painting by [name of artist], courtesy the National Guard Bureau." The U.S. Government retains all copyrights to these paintings. No commercial use is authorized without prior approval.