Firefighting plane aircraft

A firefighting aircraft on the ramp at Cheyenne airport on Sunday afternoon. Aircraft were grounded on Sunday due to high winds. 

Massive amounts of air support are being used to fight the Mullen Fire from various commercial operators as well as government agencies. As of this writing, the Mullen Fire has 2 super scoopers, 4 single-engine air tankers, and 9 helicopters working the fire. Two heavy tankers are also available. There is no shortage of commercial aviation support on the Mullen Fire. 

Wyoming Air National Guard has eight C-130 heavy-lift aircraft, and two of those are capable of aerial firefighting. They play a key role is fighting wildfires not just in Wyoming, but all over the region.

Wyoming C-130

A firefighting-capable Wyoming Air National Guard C-130 on the ramp at Cheyenne, displaying firefighting marking. 

According to Governor Mark Gordon’s office, the Wyoming National Guard C130s are capable of flying Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS). The Wyoming National Guard provides the aircraft, but the US Forest Service manages the rotation of the aircraft and MAFFS equipment. Currently, all the MAFFS equipment is deployed in California fighting wildfires there. There is currently 1 C-130 from the Wyoming Air National Guard in California supporting firefighting efforts.

The C-130 currently in Cheyenne has returned from its California mission, but does not have the MAFFS equipment.    

Further, the role of MAFFS is to provide a “surge” capability that can be used to boost wildfire suppression efforts when commercial airtankers are fully committed or not readily available. Fire managers are required to use commercial airtankers first.

Fire authorities with the Mullen fire said, “We have been very fortunate to have wide variety of fire specific aircraft. The National Guard is utilized when fire specific aircraft are not available. In addition, the winds that we have been battling makes using aircraft difficult. Aircraft is grounded has to be ground when the winds are too high.