The Forest Service uses tools in the air to manage fire on the ground.

Planes and helicopters are critical tools in managing wildland fire. Although aircraft are often used to fight wildfires, aircraft alone cannot put them out. Firefighters rely on planes and helicopters to:

  • Deliver equipment and supplies.
  • Deploy smokejumpers and rappellers to a fire.
  • Transport firefighters.
  • Provide reconnaissance of new fires, fire locations, and fire behavior.
  • Drop fire retardant or water to slow down a fire so firefighters can contain it.
  • Ignite prescribed fires.



Las Conchas Fire: Lead Bravo 7 leads in an airtanker retardant drop

The Forest Service uses planes of all types and sizes—not just airtankers— to manage wildland fire.


Helicopter getting water

The Forest Service uses helicopters to transport people, carry equipment, and deliver water or retardant to the fireline.


Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems (MAFFS)

MAFFS provides support when additional airtankers are needed.