Washington, D.C., October 14, 2014….Members of the American Helicopter Services & Aerial Firefighting Association (AHSAFA) are extending their sincere sympathy to the family and friends of Geoffrey “Craig” Hunt, who died in the crash of an airtanker in the line of duty, on Wednesday, October 8.
A long-time contract pilot for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE), Hunt had been piloting a CALFIRE-operated Grumman S-2T, dropping retardant on the Dog Rock fire outside Yosemite National Park when the accident occurred.
“During this especially intense and destructive fire season in California, we are constantly aware of the high risks involved with flying fixed-wing tankers and helicopters in support of ground-based firefighters, under the most extreme conditions,” said Tom Eversole, AHSAFA Executive Director. “Pilots like Craig are willing to accept those risks to protect our wildlands and the public. Our sympathy and prayers go out to his family and friends. As a fellow Navy P-3 pilot, I, feel we lost a family member.”
Andrew Njirich, President of Intermountain Helicopter in Sonora, California, who met Craig three years ago at the Grass Valley air attack base, praised his professionalism. “He walked this earth with grace and pride, and cast a shadow most pilots would be lucky to stand in,” he remarked. “We are so very grateful that we got to know him for even a short time and will always remember Craig. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.”
Missoula, Montana-based Neptune Aviation Services had a BAe 146 and two P2V Neptune tankers working on the Dog Rock fire when the accident happened, according to Dan Snyder, the company’s Chief Operating Officer. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Geoffrey Hunt at this sad time, and we wish to express our sympathy and condolences to our colleagues in the CALFIRE family,” Snyder said.
“All of us at Erickson express our sorrow at the loss of Pilot Geoffrey Craig Hunt. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and with CAL Fire at this time. All Aerial Firefighters grieve the loss of one of our own,” said Mike Rotonda, Aerial Firefighting Manager for Erickson, Inc. The Portland, Oregon-based company, in fact, had two of its Erickson S-64 Air Cranes assigned to the Dog Rock fire.
Erickson was involved in fighting the Dog Rock Fire, We had two Erickson S-64 Air-Cranes assigned to that fire.
“We want to extend our deepest condolences to the family, coworkers and friends of Geoffrey,” said Larry Kelley, Director of Fire Operations for CHI Aviation in Boise, Idaho. “He will be deeply missed in the firefighting community, which he so proudly served.”
CHI Aviation, Erickson, Intermountain Helicopter, and Neptune Aviation Services are members of AHSAFA, the Washington-based trade association representing the privately operated aerial firefighting industry.