The two aerial firefighters killed in July 10 aircraft crash in Arizona have been identified

5:20 p.m. MDT July 11, 2021

King Air C-90
File photo, example of a King Air C-90. This is not the aircraft that crashed.

The Bureau of Land Management has released the names of the two men killed July 10 in the crash of an air attack aircraft in Arizona.

The incident occurred at about noon during initial attack efforts on the Cedar Basin Fire, which is 14 miles east of Wikieup in northwestern Arizona.

Pilot Matthew Miller, 48, and Air Tactical Group Supervisor Jeff Piechura, 62, were on board a Beechcraft King Air C-90 aircraft conducting visual reconnaissance and aviation command and control over the fire. Mr. Miller was a fire pilot with Falcon Executive Aviation, Inc. contracted by the U.S. Forest Service. Mr. Piechura was an employee with the Coronado National Forest. Their remains have been recovered from the accident site.

Often eyewitness accounts are wrong.

But, the Arizona Republic interviewed a woman who saw the aircraft from her home coming down at a “steep angle” and then “slam into the ground.” An hour later she and her husband drove to an area near the crash. They said Bureau of Land Management employees told them they they witnessed a wing fall off the plane in the air before it crashed.

We are aware of four other wildland fire related aircraft crashes in North America this year in a 46-day period, for a total of 7 fatalities:

In 2020 during a 49-day period that began July 7 there were six crashes of firefighting aircraft — three helicopters and three air tankers. In addition, three members of the crew of a C-130 from the U.S. died when their air tanker crashed January 23, 2020 while fighting a bushfire in New South Wales, Australia.

The article was edited to show that there were no reported serious injuries in the June 15 helicopter crash.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

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 “The two aerial firefighters killed in July 10 aircraft crash in Arizona have been identified”

  1. just want to thank all the guys and girls in the fire service . thank you for what you do . may god bless you and your familys and keep y,all safe .

  2. Initial Inciweb posts indicated: “… There are no structures currently threatened. The closest structures are within a mile at this time.” ( )

    Typical Federal aircraft responses on every wildfire these past several years are VLATS. There were numerous severe weather warnings and alerts over the AM-FM radio regarding thunderstorms for many hours that day.

    NWCG Aviation Watch Outs 6 Minutes for Safety ( ) November 2020

    “As part of risk management, especially during high activity fires, each aviation manager and employee should be asking questions about every mission.

    “Is the flight necessary?
    Who is in charge?
    Are hazards identified and known?
    Have flight hazards been assessed? Have the pilots been informed?
    Should the operation or the flight be stopped due to a change in conditions? Consider the following:
    Radio communications.
    Environmental conditions – weather, visibility, terrain, elevation, temperatures.
    Mission priorities.
    Successful mission completion probabilities.
    Is there a better way to complete the mission?
    Is there pressure to complete a mission at all costs?
    Can you justify your actions?
    Is the mission airspace confined or congested?
    Multiple aircraft.
    Mixed types of aircraft.
    Poor visibility.
    Do you have an escape route?
    Are any guidelines or policies being ignored?
    Is communication between any individuals strained or tense?
    Are you deviating from the assigned operation or flight?

    Will the Agency request a Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT)? Or will it be the no blame, no fault, Facilitated Learning Analysis, where no one will learn any “complete” lessoms from this tragedy?


Comments are closed.