Idaho man charged for shooting helicopter which was flying on prescribed fire

An Idaho man has been charged with shooting at and hitting a helicopter that was being used for aerial ignition on a prescribed fire in the fall of 2010. As Wildfire Today told you then, the pilot was 69-year old Vietnam War veteran Earl Palmer, operating the ship for Hillcrest Aircraft Company out of Lewiston, Idaho, assigned to a prescribed fire near Clarkia in Shoshone County

Mr. Palmer said there were four shots, two of which struck the helicopter. He was quoted as saying that a control tube was struck and cracked by a bullet, and that the helicopter was “within minutes of coming apart at which point the helicopter would have wrecked.”  He landed the ship immediately after it was hit.

The Lewiston Tribune reported in a story published May 26 that 58-year-old John Ernest Ross of Fernwood is scheduled to appear in 1st District Court in Wallace on July 10. He is being charged with interfering with or destruction of an aircraft, a violation of Idaho code.

Court records say Ross initially denied shooting at the helicopter, but later said he probably did but had been drinking and couldn’t remember.

The online article at the Lewiston Register web site displays a bit of irony. Below the article  is a display advertisement, probably automatically placed based on the content of the article. The ad says: “Tell Congress: Support the 2nd Amendment. Sign Petition.”, and has a photo of a revolver.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

3 thoughts on “Idaho man charged for shooting helicopter which was flying on prescribed fire”

  1. James: I am surprised that he is not charged with one or more violations of federal laws, since he shot down an aircraft on contract with the federal government.

  2. Why isn’t this man being charged with attempted manslaughter? Only in Idaho could you get off this easy.


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