Pilot Killed Attempting Nighttime Air Drop Fighting Estes Park (CO) Fire

A pilot attempting a first-ever nighttime air drop in Colorado to fight the Kruger Rock wildfire in Estes Park has died.

News 9 spoke with the pilot before take off. He was excited to attempt the nighttime drop, after five years of planning, in the hope it would make it possible to fight wildfires from the air 24 hours a day in Colorado. Other states have previously used nighttime air drops to fight fires.

Co Fire Aviation, which owns the plane in the crash, identified the pilot as Marc Olson, a highly decorated veteran of both the Army and Air Force who had more than 8,000 hours of flying experience.

The plane was a one-seat firefighting airplane that can drop up to 800 gallons of water or retardant per flight. It had been fitted with special lights and the pilot given night vision goggles to facilitate low-altitude, night flying.

The plane took off at 6:47 p.m. and soon disappeared from the sky. Larimer County Sheriff’s deputies found the wreckage at 9:49 p.m.

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