UPDATE(8/21/2020) – Authorities have identified the names of the two firefighter pilots who died after a mid-air collision while battling a wildfire in Nevada in July.
David Blake Haynes, of Arizona, and Scott Thomas were identified as the pilots several weeks after the crash due to the condition of the victims. Authorities had to use DNA samples from the families in order to positively identify the two men.
A preliminary report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board indicated one of the air tankers involved in the crash had fire retardant on the windshield.
NEVADA (ABC4 News) – Two firefighter pilots were killed in a mid-air collision involving two U.S. Department of the Interior-contracted Single Engine Air Tankers, or SEATs.
The Bureau of Land Management says the incident happened at about 12:55 p.m. during firefighting activities at the Bishop Fire, about 17 miles SW of Caliente, Nevada.
The collision happened near the intersection of Kane Springs Road and Riggs Road and one person was aboard each aircraft. Both pilots were killed in the crash, according to officials.
Recovery operations are currently underway and officials say initial notifications are still being made.
Officials said SEATs are small airplanes used to support firefighters on the ground. They can deliver up to 800 gallons of fire retardant and operate in areas where larger air tankers cannot.
They added that contract pilots play an important role in wildland firefighting efforts as the Bureau of Land Management protects the public, natural landscapes, wildlife habitat, recreational areas, and other values and resources. Both men were contracted through the BLM.