The last Bloggers’ Roundtable allowed me to interview Air Force Lt. Col. Ronald Wilt and Master Sgt. Jeffrey Flight of the Air Force Reserve’s 302d Airlift Wing. They are the only Air Force unit configured for wildland firefighting, dropping fire retardant.
When Lt. Col Wilt is sitting around the O Club, I imagine he hears a lot of TINS [This Is No Shit] stories from pilots who fly planes that begin with the letter F, F-15, F-16, F-18. “There I was, over Baghdad…”
His answer, I would suspect, is to invite them along on one of his missions.
He flies a four engine turboprop, gross weight 140,000 on takeoff. He flies that plane into mountains and canyons, at 140 feet above the treetops. He copes with normal weather, winds from the terrain, smoke and heat from the fires, updrafts, down drafts, shears, all to drop 20% of his plane’s gross weight in 8 seconds on a target fire.
I would say that one trip like this would equal the TINS “over Baghdad” story, and he does it over and over during the summer.
Here’s the interview: