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Old 01-24-2020, 07:21 AM
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Unhappy Montana Air Guard pilot killed in C-130 crash fighting Australian fires

Montana Air Guard pilot killed in C-130 crash fighting Australian fires
By: Stephen Losey - Air Force Times - 01-24-20

Photo link:
Australian Army personnel and an ambulance officer gather near the scene of a downed fire tanker aircraft Jan. 23 in Cooma, Australia. Three American firefighters died after their C-130 crashed while battling a bush fire in New South Wales. (Mark Evans/Getty Images)

A pilot from the Montana Air National Guard was one of three American firefighters killed when a Canadian firefighting company’s C-130 crashed Wednesday while battling the wildfires raging across Australia.

The American branch of Coulson Aviation, which is based in British Columbia, said in a release that Ian McBeth was one of three crew members killed when one of its Lockheed C-130 tankers crashed in the Snowy Monaro Area of New South Wales, Australia. The C-130 was carrying a load of fire retardant and was on a firebombing mission, Coulson said in an earlier release.

McBeth, 44, of Great Falls, Montana, was the captain of the C-130. The other crew members were First Officer Paul Hudson, 42, of Buckeye, Arizona, and Flight Engineer Rick DeMorgan, 43, of Navarre, Florida.

2nd photo link:
Ian McBeth, who was an experienced C-130 pilot with the Montana Air National Guard, died fighting fires in Australia with two other military veterans when their C-130 crashed. (Coulson Aviation)

DeMorgan was also an 18-year veteran of the Air Force, as a flight engineer on C-130s. And Hudson graduated from the Naval Academy in 1999 and served 20 years in the Marine Corps, including time as a C-130 pilot, retiring as a highly-decorated lieutenant colonel.

The Montana Air National Guard earlier on Thursday confirmed that McBeth was part of the 120th Airlift Wing in Great Falls. Coulson said McBeth was an experienced pilot who spent his entire career flying C-130s, and was with the Wyoming Air National Guard before flying with the Montana Guard.

He is survived by his wife, Bowdie, and his three children, Abigail, Calvin and Ella, Coulson said, as well as his parents and siblings.

“Ian’s love for his wife and children was evident for anyone who spent time around him,” the Coulson release said. “Ian was a highly qualified and respected C-130 pilot with many years fighting fire, both in the military and with Coulson Aviation.”

3rd photo:
Rick DeMorgan was an 18-year Air Force veteran and experienced C-130 flight engineer, who died when his C-130 crashed while fighting fires in Australia. (Coulson Aviation)

DeMorgan had more than 4,000 hours as a flight engineer on the C-130, including 2,000 in a combat environment, Coulson said.

He is survived by his two children, Lucas and Logan, his parents, and his sister.

“Ricks passion was always flying and his children,” Coulson said.

Hudson is survived by his wife, Noreen, the release said.

Photo link:
Paul Hudson graduated from the Naval Academy in 1999 and served 20 years in the Marine Corps, including time flying C-130s. (Coulson Aviation)

Coulson pledged to support the fallen aviators’ families.

“At Coulson Aviation, we have the incredible job of fighting fires around the world and we take pride in this responsibility," the company said in the release. "Right now, our hearts are with the crew’s family and friends and our Coulson Family suffering in the loss of these three remarkable and well-respected crew-members.”

“The aviation industry and emergency service sector is a small community both in Australia and around the world. This will be deeply felt by all.”

Australia’s Rural Fire Service said Thursday the C-130 had crashed near Cooma, south of the Australian capital Canberra, according to a Washington Post report. All three crew were U.S. residents, fire commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

“We simply lost contact with the machine and the flight tracker we used stopped,” Fitzsimmons said. “There is no indication at this stage what caused the accident.”

Another photo just after the accident:
People at the Numeralla Rural Fire Brigade embrace near the scene of a water tanker plane crash Jan. 23. The repurposed C-130 Hercules took off from Richmond RAAF base at 1 p.m, and disappeared from the flight radar an hour later. Coulson Aviation, the Canadian operator of the C-130 aircraft, has now grounded its fleet as a mark of respect for the victims and to re-assess safety conditions. (Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

Fitzsimmons said there was a “large fireball” at the crash site, the Post reported.

Gladys Berejiklian, premier of New South Wales, said flags would be flown at half-staff in honor of the firefighters.

About Stephen Losey she covers leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times. He comes from an Air Force family, and his investigative reports have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover Air Force operations against the Islamic State.


Personal note: In behalf of the Patriot File Member(s) we send our respects to the families and friends of these men who were lost in this terrible accident. Our Thought's and Prayer's
go out to you all for your loss.


O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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