Firefighting Aircraft Memorial
Operating aircraft for fire suppression is a dangerous business, and Ryan Air Attack Base has not been immune to the tragic loss of life. Two air tankers stationed at Ryan Air Attack Base have been lost in the line of duty.
The first was Tanker 82, a Lockheed C-130 Hercules, which went down on August 13, 1994 while enroute to a fire in Kern County. Killed in the tragic accident was Pilot Bob Buc, Co-Pilot Joe Johnson, and Flight Engineer Shawn Zaremba. On June 17, 1995 an air tanker memorial was dedicated at Ryan Air Attack Base, in the public viewing area, to honor the loss of Tanker 82 and all tanker pilots lost in the line of duty. The poem on the granite memorial reads:
On any given day they take to the sky.
Their destiny in question, yet they never ask why.
As they race to the fire on strong metal wings.
This day in the air they are truly the kings.
So fly on gallent heroes, and give it your best.
Let it be known, you flew over the rest!
When your last flight finally comes to an end.
You soared with the eagles, you rode on the wind.
- P. Neal 1995
Four days later on June 21, 1995 Tanker 19, a Mc Donald Douglas DC-4 based out of Ryan Air Attack Base, collided with Lead 56, a Beechcraft Barron while on final approach to Ramona Air Tanker Base. Killed in the accident was Tanker 19 Pilot Gary Cockrell, Co-Pilot Lisa Netsch, and Lead 56 Pilot Mike Smith.
On October 5, 1998, Pilot Gary Nagel was dispatched from the Fresno Air Attack Base in CAL FIRE Tanker 96 to assist Firefighters in Riverside County. While fighting the Mount Edna Fire on the San Jacinto Mountains, Tanker 96 encountered turbulent air and impacted the terrain, killing Gary Nagel.
Thank you for your service good friends...