The North Carolina Air Nation Guard announced today that four crew members of a MAFFS equipped C-130 were killed and two others seriously injured in a crash that occurred on Sunday.The crash occurred while the aircraft was conducting firefighting operations near Edgemont S.D.
The fallen were reported as Lt. Col. Paul K. Mikeal, 42, of
Mooresville, N.C.; Maj. Joseph M. McCormick, 36, of Belmont, N.C.; Maj.
Ryan S. David, 35, of Boone, N.C.; Senior Master
Sgt. Robert S. Cannon, 50, of Charlotte, N.C.
The names of the injured were not released, nor were details of their injuries. Both remain hospitalized in S.D.
All were experienced aircrew members, their loss will be felt both in the 145th MAW and in their communities. Their commitment to the firefighting mission should be recognized as well, in essence we all suffered a loss.
The accident will be heavily investigated to determine what caused this incident and what steps are needed to reduce the chances of it happening again. Typically, when a civilian aircraft crashes on an incident, an investigation is conducted by the NTSB, FAA and other agencies. A preliminary report is published within a short time and the full report shows up within a year or so. Information can be gleaned from the report and often, items are noted which can be changed in order to reduce risk.
As this was a military aircraft, I am unsure how (or if) the details of the crash will be disseminated. I am pretty sure the Air Force does not publish accident reports, though they do release some basic cause information.
What role the USFS or other firefighting organization will play in the investigation is unknown to me as well. As there has never been a crash of a MAFFS aircraft while assigned to a fire, I am betting all of the inter-agency agreements are being pulled out of file cabinets and being reviewed. Hopefully the issue of investigations and the dissemination of findings were addressed.
The other MAFFS aircraft were returned to flight status today, with the exception of the second aircraft from the NC ANG.
If any further information on this becomes available I'll let you know. Till then, keep the families of the fallen in your thoughts and prayers and pray for a full and speedy recovery for the two survivors.
Thanks for reading,