Pilots of small tankers killed in mid-air collision while working Eastern Nevada fire
A mid-air collision involving two Department of the Interior-contracted Single Engine Air Tankers occurred on the 14,000-acre Bishop Fire, approximately 17 miles southwest of Caliente.
The incident occurred at approximately 12:55 p.m. Thursday. Both pilots were killed in the crash. Recovery operations were underway and initial notifications being made as of Thursday night.
“We offer our sincere condolences to the families of the two pilots and to all those working with the BLM Nevada Ely District,” said BLM Nevada State Director Jon Raby.
The Bishop Fire was first reported 12:15 p.m. Wednesday and was caused by people.
The small airplanes are used to support firefighters on the ground. They can deliver up to 800 gallons of fire retardant and operate in areas where larger airtankers cannot. Contract pilots play an important role in wildland firefighting efforts as the bureau protects the public, natural landscapes, wildlife habitat, recreational areas, and other values and resources.
The distinctive yellow aircraft have responded to several fires across the Sierra Front over the past years and have been stationed at both Minden-Tahoe and Alpine County airports.
The incident is under investigation.