A recently released video shows what it’s like to fly in the cockpit of one of the California National Guard C-130s currently working to contain the Carr fire, one of the largest wildfires in California’s history.
These C-130s are specially equipped to assist in the firefighting effort, using Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) to drop massive amounts of fire retardant from the sky. The fire retardant used is a specially developed chemical spray that can be used to slow or stop the spread of the fire, or even reduce its intensity by reducing how flammable the fuels in the area (such as wood) or temporarily delaying its combustion, hindering the progress of the spreading walls of flame.
The MAFFS system can literally be rolled onto a number of different aircraft, including the legendary C-130 Hercules, allowing for integral air support in the firefighting effort without the need (and expense) of an entire fleet of dedicated firefighting aircraft. Once installed in a C-130 or J-series transport plane, the MAFFS system can disperse some 3,0000 gallons of retardant spray in just five seconds, smothering an area that’s about 100 feet wide and a full quarter mile long. Once depleted, the aircraft can return to base and resupplied with another 3,000-gallon payload and dispatched for another run in just twelve minutes.
The Carr fire was first reported on July 23, when a trailer tire blew on a road near Redding, California. The tire’s rim scraped the asphalt, producing sparks — and that’s all it took to begin the massive blaze that went on to engulf more than a thousand homes.