Bob Endlich on other option in New Mexico forest fires

A regular guest on News New Mexico is Col. (RET)  Bob Endlich, a retired Meteorologist. Here is what he says about the issue of drought and the danger of forest fire. He says: There is some more information which might be considered in this case. Yes, hot temperatures and high elevations have detrimental effects on small aircraft and helicopters when they run out of “density altitude” under such conditions. Density altitude is easily forecast by experienced weather forecasters. Please consider this: There is a fire fighting system which can be put on the C-130 Hercules called the MAFFS; read more about it here
You can see how it works in this video:

I served as a crew member in the C-130 in Vietnam and doing weather research. I can assure you that the C-130 will not “run out of density altitude” fighting fires anywhere in New Mexico. Last year C-130s from Peterson AFB’s 302d Airlift Wing were deployed to Kirtland AFB to support the forest fire fighting efforts in northern New Mexico: Story is here  So, to me, the thrust of this story and situation should not be with the use of helicopters to support a fire at high elevation in the heat of the day. Rather, it should be along these lines: New Mexico is in multi-year drought, and the bark beetles have provided a large supply of dead timber for fuel for any forest fire. In June, the monsoon thunderstorms have not yet appeared on the scene, temperatures are highest of the year and fire fuel is abundant in the forests. Because of the high density altitude in the high mountains of New Mexico, and the inability of helicopters to support fires at high elevations, why not think out of the box to ask the Air Force to sit alert for a few days or weeks with MAFFS –equipped C-130s to provide rapid response to high elevation forest fires. Why does not New Mexico have a contingency plan to request such support rather than quibble with Michael Swickard’s suggestions? ROBERT W. ENDLICH, Lt Col, USAF, (Retired), Meteorologist.



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