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The International Aerial Firefighting Awards are presented annually to recognize a significant contribution by an individual or organization to aerial firefighting. The winners will be announced at the Aerial Firefighting Conference Dinner on March 19, 2019 during Aerial Firefighting Europe 2019 in Nîmes, France.
Nominations are invited in two categories–Contribution to Aerial Firefighting Safety, and Industry Innovation and Advancement. When making a nomination, consider individuals or organizations who have made a significant contribution to furthering the safety and/or efficiency of aerial firefighting.
The closing date for nominations is March 1, 2019. The awards committee will convene after the close of nominations to consider all candidates and select the winners. The selection committee is made up of peers of the global aerial firefighting community
Nominations may be made by any individual or organization who can reasonably be considered by the committee to be a member of the global aerial firefighting or wild land firefighting communities. The nominator must be clearly identified on the form, including contact details. Individuals or organizations may not nominate themselves.
The awards website has further details including the nomination form and how to submit it.
The awards–previously known at the ‘Walt Darran Award’–were inaugurated in 2014 in honour of the late Walt Darran (1940-2013). Darran was a pioneer and advocate for advances in aerial firefighting. Besides being a highly experienced S2-T air tanker pilot, and highly decorated U.S. Navy aviator, he was a constant and passionate advocate for safety and improvement in the international aerial firefighting community.
Previous winners have included:
- Jim Cook of Cal Fire, whose very substantial 10,000 flying hours of aerial firefighting led to the design and implementation of the Fire Traffic Area in airspace management;
- George Patterson from the National Transportation Safety Board raised the bar on air tanker maintenance and new programs have been implemented since to improve safety of aerial firefighters globally; and
- Jacques Bonneval from Sécurité Civile brought extensive operational experience to the National Aerial Fire Fighting organization, where he implemented policies and processes to further enhance air-to-ground cooperation for safer, more efficient and more effective use of water bombers.
Darran truly embodied the aviator pioneering spirit and continued to be active in the international aerial firefighting community right up to his passing in 2013. In 2009, after 19 seasons as an air tanker captain, Darran retired from flying aerial firefighting missions and took up the mantle of president of the Association of Aerial Firefighters, now known as the Associated Aerial Firefighters (AAF). With 25,000 hours of flying experience–including 1,500 in helicopters–Darran committing the last decade of his life to promoting training and improving flight safety for aerial firefighting pilots.
For more information on Aerial Firefighting Europe 2019, including when the Awards will be presented, please visit the website.