by: Eric Philips Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The 145th Air Wing division of the North Carolina Air National Guard is heading to Wyoming this weekend for a weeklong training.
They'll be practicing fighting wildfires from the air using modular airborne firefighting systems or MAFFS. Only the most experienced and most proficient in the air wing take part in MAFFS missions, and even they don't take anything for granted.
"It’s very dangerous," said Capt. Jay Bondurant. "We want these guys to already know what they're doing and be good at it before they actually get on a fire."
Just two years ago the air wing lost four men when they flew into a microburst during a similar firefighting mission and crashed.
"Anytime you're low and slow with bad visibility it's dangerous conditions," Bondurant said.
That's why this training is so critical for everyone involved. Dave Brown operates the MAFFS equipment in the back.
"For us in the back we don't have eyes in the back windows and so my faith and trust is in those guys in the front," Brown said.
Crews will head to Wyoming on Sunday for training. They'll return to Charlotte on Friday.