"It appeared from the direction he was going, he
was trying to make a drop down the side of the
canyon when he hit the canyon wall." Witnesses
reported the aircraft disappeared into the smoke
and then they heard a boom.
Alyssa Smith, spokeswoman for the California
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said
first responders had hike through the rugged
terrain and was able to locate the aircraft and
its pilot. The pilot was pronounced dead at the
scene, he was believed to be the only one
onboard the air tanker.
CalFire spokeswoman, Janet Upton said the pilot
was an employee with DynCorp and contracted out
to CalFire. DynCorp International is a private
military contractor that provides pilots and
mechanics to fly and maintain Calfire's
aircraft. The pilot
flying tanker No. 81 out of the Hollister Air
CalFire Director Chief Ken Pimlott said "This
crash underscores just how inherently dangerous
wildland firefighting is and the job is further
compounded this year by extreme fire
conditions." Pimlott also stated the crash site
has been secured.
Update - CalFire has
released the pilot's name, he has be identified
as Geoffrey "Craig" Hunt, 62, of
San Jose. Hunt had been
with Dyncorp International for 13 years.