Updated August 20, 2020 | 7:27 p.m. MDT
The Sheriff’s Office of Lincoln County, Nevada has officially released the names of the two pilots that were killed in the mid-air collision of two Single Engine Air Tankers that occurred July 30, 2020 that were working on the Bishop Fire in southeast Nevada. The aircraft were on contract with the BLM.
They were identified by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office as David Blake Haynes and Scott Thomas. When we asked Sheriff Kerry Lee why it took almost three weeks to release the names, he said that they have four ways to identify deceased individuals — dental, fingerprint, identification by the family either on scene or by photo, or DNA. Because of the condition of the victims they had to use DNA which required obtaining samples from family members then sending those to a lab with samples from the pilots.
A preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that one of the two SEATs had fire retardant on the windshield. Both pilots of the aircraft, the only personnel on board, were killed while assisting firefighters on the Bishop Fire in southeast Nevada.
The investigators found that the tankers were working in tandem with one close behind the other. After the following aircraft got retardant on the windshield it made a rapid climb then suddenly turned left and collided with the other.
Both of the SEATs were operated by M&M Air Services out of Beaumont, Texas. The aircraft were made by Air Tractor, model AT-802A; N8510M (Tanker 866) and N1558W (Tanker 824).
Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and co-workers of Mr. Haynes and Mr. Thomas.
The article was updated August 20, 2020 after receiving information from the Sheriff’s office.