An air tanker crashed while working on the Hoyt fire in Nevada on Thursday, killing the pilot. Our sincere condolences to the family and co-workers.
From the Missoulian:
A Missoula-area pilot died Thursday when his single-engine air tanker plane crashed while dropping retardant on a forest fire 125 miles northeast of Reno, Nev.
The pilot’s name was Dave Jamsa, and he’d worked at Minuteman Aerial Applications Inc. for four years. The company is a sister corporation of Minuteman Aviation Inc., based at Missoula International Airport. Jamsa had a wife and four children in Missoula.
“He was trying to make his drop when he crashed,” Minuteman director of operations Forrest Gue said Friday morning. “We’re doing everything we can to find out why it happened.”
Jamsa’s plane was one of six SEAT planes working on the Hoyt Fire on Thursday, according to Bureau of Land Management spokesman Mark Struble. The 2,000-acre fire is burning in pinon-juniper trees, sagebrush and grass, and is about 5 percent contained.
“SEATs are used quite a bit by BLM in this country,” Struble said on Friday. “They carry a load that seems to work really well with our kind of fires. They can get into much tighter country, and lower, than the multi-engine bombers.”
The crash happened about 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Jamsa was airlifted from the crash site to medical facilities in Locklock, Nev., where he was pronounced dead. No one else was injured in the crash.
The plane was an Air Tractor AT-802A, one of four Minuteman Aerial Applications operates out of Missoula. It is a modified crop-duster carrying 800 gallons of retardant and a single pilot. Minuteman has used the planes for firefighting since 1999.
The National Transportation Safety Board is sending investigators to study the crash. No other Minuteman or affiliated aircraft are affected by the review, according to Minuteman Aerial Applications president Mark Mamuzich.
“We’re mostly initial attack,” Mamuzich said on Friday. “We get out there and try to knock things down before they get too big. They’re a very effective tool. The SEATs have really proved themselves over the years. Unfortunately we had this mishap.”
Plans for a memorial service for Jamsa had not been finalized Friday.