He risked his life to keep us safe – and lost it

I was saddened to read this report.

A helicopter pilot fighting the California wildfires died Wednesday morning when his aircraft went down in Fresno County, officials said.

The pilot was on a water dropping mission when the chopper crashed about 160 miles south of San Francisco, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said in a statement.

The pilot was the only person aboard the helicopter.

There’s more at the link.  The name of the pilot was not provided.

Sadly, such crashes are far from rare.  In the limited visibility of a fire, operating dangerously close to obstacles on the ground, in aircraft that are often old and retired from conventional service, it’s a very dangerous occupation.  Consider this C-130 crash in 2002, which killed all aboard.  The plane was very old, long retired from military service, and its age caught up with it in the form of metal fatigue, with fatal results.

Say a prayer, if you will, for the soul of the helicopter pilot who died yesterday, and for the loved ones he leaves behind.  It’s too late to thank him, but perhaps we can find some way to thank the many others who are fighting fires right now, and doing so much in so many areas – police, firefighters, emergency medicine, etc. – to keep us safe.



  1. I had a B17 do a red goo drop on top of me and the team of helitac on a fire near Ojai in the early 70's. Nasty stuff Borate was.

  2. That C-130 seemed to have more than metal fatigue. It looked like explosions separated the wings from the fuselage. Was that just from the lines of the wing tanks breaking and igniting in heat, or was there more to that story?

  3. For a pilot and technical look at aircraft crashes, check the ytube channel "blancolirio". He's an airline pilot that reports on crashes and notable FAA actions, such as the Boeing 737MAX situation. He also covers firefighting, as he trained for that sort of flying. Former Air Force. Also covers dam problems and collapses.

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