Nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 Aerial Firefighting Award, which recognises a significant contribution by an individual or organization to aerial firefighting.
The Award was inaugurated in honor of the late Walt Darran and is previously known as the “Walt Darran Award”. Walt was a pioneer and advocate for advances in aerial firefighting. Being a highly experienced S2-T air tanker pilot and former highly decorated US Navy aviator from California, USA, Walt was a constant and passionate advocate for safety and improvement in the international aerial firefighting.
Jim Cook was honored for helping to develop the Fire Traffic Area.
Above: Jim Cook (right) receives the Walt Darren International Aerial Firefighting Award from David Wardall. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
Jim Cook received the Walt Darran International Aerial Firefighting Award March 22 at the Aerial Firefighting Conference in Sacramento, California. The honor is given annually to recognize a significant contribution to aerial firefighting by an individual or organization.
Mr. Cook was recognized for his part in developing the concept of the Fire Traffic Area, a system of air traffic control for firefighting aircraft over an incident. The need for organizing aircraft into a pattern became painfully evident when two S2 air tankers collided over the Bus Fire August 27, 2001 in Mendocino County in northern California. The two pilots, Larry Groff of Santa Rosa and Lars Stratte of Chico, were killed.
The Fire Traffic Area procedure requires that aircraft approaching a fire make initial radio contact 12 nautical miles out, and should not approach any closer than 7 miles if radio contact is not successful.
The Walt Darren award was first presented in 2014 at the Aerial Firefighting Conference in Sacramento, California, USA. Mr. Darran was a highly experienced airtanker pilot from California and a constant and passionate advocate for safety and improvement in aerial firefighting industry.
The 2015 Aerial Fire Fighting Europe conference took place this year in Zadar, Croatia on April 29 and 30. During the dinner event on the 29th the second Walt Darran International Aerial Firefighting Award was presented to Philippe Bodino. The Award is given annually to recognize a significant contribution by an individual or organization to aerial firefighting.
Colonel Philippe Bodino is a French firefighter who was heavily involved in ground firefighting but was also an “officier aero” (ie, Air Tactical Group Supervisor, or ATGS). He was director of the French Fire Academy (Ecole Nationale Superieur des Officiers de Sapeur-Pompiers) and led a group who wrote the manual for Sécurité Civile Fire Fighters on how to manage aerial fire fighting assets over incidents so that the aircraft could efficiently support ground troops.
The award for Mr. Bodino was presented by Richard Alder, General Manager of the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) in Australia. Mounted on the award is a model of Tanker 93, an S-2 flown by Mr. Darran when he was based at Chico, California.
The Walt Darran International Aerial Firefighting Award is named after the late Walt Darran who was a highly experienced airtanker pilot from California, USA, a constant and passionate advocate for safety and improvement in the aerial firefighting industry. In 2014, the first award was presented to George Petterson.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Frédéric Marsaly for supplying the information and the photo.
Wednesday night at the Aerial Firefighting conference during a dinner at the California Aerospace Museum in Sacramento, George Petterson received an award named after Walt Darran, a legend in aerial firefighting, who passed away November 15, 2013.
Mr. Petterson was instrumental in determining the cause of two fatal crashes of air tankers. Below is an excerpt from an article in Aviation Week and Space Technology, February 21, 2005, (which is more accurate than the information which we received and posted earlier).
“George Petterson of the Los Angeles office of the National Transportation Safety Board investigated the 2002 inflight wing failure of a U.S. Forest Service Lockheed C-130, which led to the grounding of the firefighting fleet. Finding that metal fatigue hidden by a doubler was the cause, Petterson expedited the dissemination of this information to operators so there would be the least interruption to firefighting services. The investigation stirred his curiosity about a 1994 crash of a C-130 in which the wing also came apart during firefighting. The NTSB had attributed that accident to a fuel explosion. At considerable personal effort, Pettterson retrieved evidence from that crash in mountainous terrain, showing how a fatigue crack had grown unseen beneath a doubler in a manner similar to that experienced by the 2002 crash aircraft. Due to Petterson’s initiative, the NTSB changed the probable cause of the 1994 accident to fatigue cracking (AW&ST May 10, 2004 p. 69).”