Even an 11-ton search and rescue helicopter needs a bath sometimes, which is why this reporter was delighted to see a picture last week on the popular Facebook group Air Force amn/nco/snco of several helicopters covered in what appeared to be the foam produced by a hangar-sized bubble bath.

But alas, the choppy buzz boys were not enjoying a bubble bath.

What really happened, Air Force officials told Task & Purpose, was that a lightning storm above Moody Air Force Base on Thursday night triggered a high expansion foam system that smothered the helicopters like freshly-fallen snow.

Air Force photo

If Air Force bases had Thirsty Thursday foam parties, would they look like this? (Facebook / Air Force amn/nco/snco)

“Five HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters were inside at the time of the activation,” said the public affairs office for the Moody-based 23rd Fighter Wing, in a statement published on Friday. “No personnel were present. Moody AFB fire department, civil engineering and maintenance professionals responded immediately.”

As any college student knows, cleaning up after a Thirsty Thursday foam party is a tall order, and the Foaming of Moody AFB, was no exception. The Moody statement said the 23rd Maintenance Group was working with engineers from the Robins Air Force Base Logistics Center to get rid of it all.

The aircraft were undamaged, the statement said, and the foam itself contains no hazardous chemicals or compounds. That sounds like a good feature to have, because cleaning a Pave Hawk is a lot of work. In fact, it can take four to six hours to wash a single helicopter.

“The High Expansion Foam system is designed to discharge foam inside an aircraft hangar in the event of a fire,” the statement said.

The Moody foam incident brings to mind how the Netherlands welcomed the arrival of its first F-35A fighter in November. The fire department there was supposed to salute the joint strike fighter with water cannons, but earlier that day they reportedly had responded to an actual emergency and forgot to switch back to water from firefighting foam.

Still, no harm no foul. In the final analysis, the Moody incident is a spot of good news: the system designed to save the helicopters of the 347th Rescue Group is up and running. Now that sounds like a cause for a celebratory bubble bath.