Latest Update 7-3-2012:
It has been confirmed that 4 airmen died and 2 others were seriously injured in the crash of the C-130 MAFFS aircraft belonging to the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard. The dead are listed as Lt. Col. Paul K. Mikeal, 42, of Mooresville; Maj. Joseph M. McCormick, 36, of Belmont; Maj. Ryan S. David, 35, of Boone and Senior Master Sgt. Robert S. Cannon, 50, of Charlotte.
The C-130s equipped with MAFFS II units to fight wildfires will resume flying Tuesday after the Air Force grounded them following this deadly crash.
A C-130 plane fighting the White Draw fire dropped from the radar and "went down" Sunday night at approximately 6:00pm, according to the Fall River Sheriff's Office. The C-130 equipped with a MAFFS II unit crashed in the southwest corner of South Dakota.
Three Crew members were transported by ambulance to Rapid City Regional Hospital for further medical treatment. At least one crew member has died. Family members of Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal of Mooresville confirmed they were notified early Monday of his death, he was a 42-years-old, married and the father of two children. There may have been three other fatalities as a result of the crash.
The cause of the crash is unknown and is currently under investigation. All C-130s configured for the MAFFS units have been grounded until the investigation is complete.
The aircraft had been dropping flame retardant on the White Draw Fire in the southwest corner of South Dakota.
The plane that crashed had just come in from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. The C-130 that crashed was assigned to the 145th Airlift Wing, Air National Guard based in Charlotte, North Carolina.