U.S. Air Force provides MAFFS training in Colombia, South America

MAFFS C-130 Columbian Air Force
File photo. A Colombian Air Force C-130 makes a demonstration drop with a MAFFS unit. March 29, 2017. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

U.S. Air Force personnel from four bases in the United States travelled to South America to work with the Colombian armed forces as part of a mobile training team from February 11 through March 11 at two air bases in Colombia.

The team was comprised of 15 air advisors from the 571st MSAS at Travis Air Force Base, California, and six total force instructors from three other U.S. Air Force units. The training covered a variety of areas of cooperation between the U.S. and Colombia. It aimed at supporting Colombia in their pursuit to counter transnational and transregional threat networksm aerial firefighting, and to enhance the capability of the Fuerza Aerea Colombiana, their air force also known as the FAC.

Additionally, the 571st MSAS team provided ground training to the Colombian air force on Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems, or MAFFS, a system loaded into the back of a C-130 aircraft that drops fire retardant to aid in stopping the spread of wildfires.

The Columbian government purchased a MAFFS unit in 2017 from MAFFS Joint Venture, a private company in California.

MAFFS training Columbia
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Richard Pantusa, 731st Airlift Squadron Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems instructor pilot from Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, demonstrates the effectiveness of fire retardant in combating forest fires to members from the Fuerza Aerea Colombiana in Columbia, March 4, 2020. Employing an aerial firefighting capability will help the FAC in combatting wild fires, both internally and internationally. The specialized training, provided by the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command personnel, was a stepping stone to future work with the FAC on further enhancing this capability. (Courtesy photo)

Aerial firefighting capability will help the FAC in combatting wildfires, both internally and internationally. The specialized training provided by the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command personnel was a stepping stone to future work with the FAC on further enhancing this capability.

“While a very effective fire-fighting tool, this specific mission set requires consistent practice,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Richard Pantusa, 731st Airlift Squadron MAFFS instructor pilot from Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. “It is inherently a dangerous mission — flying low over mountainous terrain that is on fire. The FAC has a new MAFFS program that includes highly motivated and knowledgeable C-130 operators who are attempting to grow their MAFFS program.”

While training on the diverse capabilities of the C-130 was the main focus of the mission, the 571st MSAS air advisors also took the opportunity to support additional U.S. Southern Command lines of effort by continuing to develop interoperability between the U.S. and Colombia.

More photos from the delivery of the MAFFS unit in Colombia, March 29, 2017.

Video of MAFFS air tanker crews training to fight fire

Video of the C-130s was shot in May, 2019 during annual MAFFS training at Colorado Springs, Colorado

MAFFS drop
MAFFS drop. Screenshot from the video.

The video below was posted today by AIRAILIMAGES. Here is their description:


Footage depicts Air National Guard C-130H Hercules transports fitted with the Modular Airborne Firefighting System (MAFFS) making low passes and water drops during the 2019 training and recertification of MAFFS crews in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in May. Visible also is the U.S. Forest Service’s new King Air 250 lead plane, flying ahead of a C-130 from the Nevada Air National Guard 152nd Airlift Wing. An OV-10 Bronco later leads a C-130 from the Wyoming Air National Guard 153rd Airlift Wing. Listen for thunder in the mountains as the Wyoming ANG flies. Several military C-130 units are MAFFS-qualified to assist in wildfire containment during peak fire season when civilian air tanker assets are heavily tasked. The MAFFS system can be installed in a standard C-130 when needed.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Fred. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Conair to acquire five flight simulators

The three-axis motion platforms will be part of what is being called the world’s first aerial firefighting training and tactics center

Conair acquire five flight training devices
Conair to acquire five flight training devices from Quantum3D

The Conair Group has awarded a contract to Quantum3D to design, build, and deliver five fully Networked Flight Training Devices (FTD) for the world’s first aerial firefighting training and tactics center in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. Quantum3D will be working with aerial firefighting subject matter experts from Conair to jointly develop advanced wildfire simulation software and training scenarios to improve the efficiency and safety of aerial firefighting.

Partnering with Aerx Labs for the reconfigurable cockpits, Q4 Services for the visual displays, and DBox for the three-axis motion platforms, Quantum3D has assembled an experienced and established team to provide cost-effective and proven components for the flight simulators.

The five integrated training devices are being designed to be reconfigurable to simulate the cockpit and flight dynamics for eight aircraft platforms performing different roles during an aerial firefighting mission.  Each of these reconfigurable FTD’s will be able to perform individual or joint training encompassing different aircraft platforms and scenarios.

“Quantum3D will also emphasize the coordination and interaction of multiple elements in the execution of a mission”, said Mark Matthews, President, Quantum3D.

The custom wildfire simulation software being developed will not only be simulating the ground fire and effects of the aerial retardant being applied by the trainees but will also be simulating the dynamic and dangerous environmental changes created by the fire that pilots may encounter.

“We are excited to be working with Quantum3D to develop a Mission Training System in which our pilots can practice aerial firefighting tactics, techniques and procedures in a safe and risk free environment.  Our goal with the integrated simulators is to mitigate the risks and produce the best-trained and most effective aerial firefighting pilots in the world.  This technology is a quantum leap in training for our industry and the scenarios that we train to will save lives”, said Mark Baird from Conair.

The expectation is that the five new simulators, with eight different aircraft configurations will be available for training before the 2020 fire season.

Nevada Forestry and National Guard helicopter bucket training

Personnel from Nevada this week conducted aerial fire suppression and water bucket training on the heels of a wet winter and ahead of what could quickly turn into a very active summer for area firefighters.

Training throughout the week included several scenarios that mirrored real situations.

“In advance of what promises to be a challenging fire suppression season, this training aims to improve interagency crew cooperation and interaction, especially communication between ground and air crews,” National Guard spokesman Sgt. 1st Class Erick Studenicka said, according to the Record-Courier newspaper. 

A bucket drop test during training with the Nevada Division of Forestry and Nevada National Guard. Courtesy photo.
A bucket drop test during training with the Nevada Division of Forestry and Nevada National Guard. Courtesy photo.

Interview with a Crew Chief on a C-130 MAFFS air tanker

On April 21, 2017 we interviewed Zach Havel an engine mechanic and former Crew Chief on C-130 Modular Airborne FireFighting System aircraft. The MAFFS converts the aircraft into a 3,000-gallon air tanker. We talked with him at Boise during the annual MAFFS training and recertification.

Rappel academy hosts 110 participants at John Day, Oregon

Rappel training John Day Oregon

About 110 firefighters attended the Rappel training held at John Day, Oregon April 17-21. Four Bell 205’s were there: N510WW, N669H, N933CH, and N205DY.

These excellent photos were taken by Todd McKinley. Thanks Todd!

Rappel training John Day Oregon Rappel training John Day Oregon Rappel training John Day Oregon Rappel training John Day Oregon

Video interview with the Colonel in charge of MAFFS annual training

Colonel Bryan Allen was interviewed during the annual training and recertification for the Modular Airborne FireFighting System crews at Boise, Idaho on April 21, 2017. The MAFFS converts a military C-130 into an air tanker for battling wildfires.

Col. Allen discussed:

  • How playing the recording of the C-130J audible cockpit warning “LANDING GEAR, LANDING GEAR, LANDING GEAR” over the public address system at Lockheed, helped to develop a software modification that enabled the pilots to turn off that voice while they were on final approach to drop retardant on a wildfire.
  • The number of sorties and description of the training the MAFFS personnel received during the annual session.
  • How the crash of MAFFS 7 in 2012 affected the training.
  • The origin of the MAFFS equipment.

Time-lapse, refilling MAFFS air tanker

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We shot this time-lapse video today at Boise during the annual Modular Airborne FireFighting System training. It shows C-130 aircraft cycling in and out of a reloading pit. During the process it was filled with about 3,000 gallons of water and possibly compressed air from an air compressor on the ground — or the crew could have used the air compressors on-board the aircraft. When the reloading hose for water is dragged out to the aircraft, a compressed air line is zip-tied to it.