Cal Fire airtanker pilot dies in crash


CAL FIRE Lifts Airtanker Safety Stand Down

Sacramento – Earlier today the National Transportation Safety Board notified CAL FIRE that their investigation into the Tanker 81 accident has found no structural failures or aging aircraft issues involved in the crash. Immediately following this finding, CAL FIRE has lifted the safety stand down of the CAL FIRE S-2T airtanker fleet, which had been initiated following the accident. Airbase personnel have returned to routine daily safety inspections and will be permitted to resume normal flight activities today.
“This has been a difficult week for the Department,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, director of CAL FIRE. “Words can’t express my sorrow for the Hunt family, but I am incredibly thankful of the work our pilots, employees and fire service partners have done following this tragic accident.”


Update: Pilot Killed in Fatal Airtanker Crashed Identified

Sacramento – CAL FIRE officials today released the identity of the pilot killed in yesterday’s airtanker crash in Yosemite National Park. Geoffrey “Craig” Hunt, age 62, of San Jose was a 13 year veteran pilot of Dyncorp International under contract with CAL FIRE.


“We continue to mourn the tragic loss of Craig,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director. “We know wildland firefighting is an inherently dangerous job, but Craig made the ultimate sacrifice.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Craig’s family during this difficult time,” said Jeff Cavarra, program director for DynCorp International.

Today the National Transportation Safety Board has assumed command of the investigation and CAL FIRE continues to support them.



Crash of Airtanker Claims the Life of Pilot

Sacramento – This evening emergency personnel were able to access the crash site of a CAL FIRE airtanker that had crashed near Yosemite National Park and determined that the pilot on board had died. The CAL FIRE airtanker (Tanker 81) based out of the Hollister Air Attack Base had been fighting the Dog Rock Fire near El Portal when officials lost contact with it late this afternoon.

The pilot’s family has requested we withhold release of the pilot’s name until all immediate family can be notified.

“This crash underscores just how inherently dangerous wildland firefighting is and the job is  further compounded this year by extreme fire conditions,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director. “We have secured the crash site and will be cooperating with the NTSB on their investigation.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot’s family during this difficult time,” said Jeff Cavarra, program director for DynCorp International.

CAL FIRE operates 22 other Grumman S-2T airtankers across California.


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8 years ago

We need practiced and skilled pilots like the late Mr. Hunt to do retardant drops that may stop fires before they threaten structures. The drops that really matter are more effective when done by an experienced pilot. I think if tankers were only used in dire circumstances, the pilots would… Read more »

8 years ago
Reply to  Because

Good response thanks.

8 years ago

Very tragic. Sometimes it seems like wildfires that are not threatening structures or life would be better left alone. Sad to lose life like this.