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Firefighter C-130 pilot who died in Australia plane crash was MT Air National Guardsman

Wildfire near Lake Echo, Tasmania, Australia (Pierre Markuse/Flickr)

An American pilot and firefighter who died battling wildfires in Australia grew up in Wray, on Colorado’s Eastern Plains.

Ian McBeth was one of a three-member crew killed Thursday when a C-130 Hercules aerial water tanker crashed in southeastern Australia.

“Ian was a very tough, tenacious and very, very capable person,” said his father, Bill McBeth. “One of the most capable persons I’ve ever known.”

After graduating from Wray High School, where he excelled in football, Ian McBeth attended the University of Wyoming and joined the Wyoming Air National Guard with the intention of becoming a pilot, his father said.

Initially, McBeth was denied pilot training because of his eyesight, and he became a construction specialist with the Guard. When he turned 28, McBeth took another shot at becoming a pilot and passed the eye exam, clearing the way for him to realize his dream, Bill McBeth said.

Ian McBeth served military tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He transferred to the Montana Air National Guard to join a C-130 squad and about five years ago went to work for Coulson Aviation.

“He was someone ideally suited for what he ended up doing, flying that plane and fighting fires,” Bill McBeth said. “He liked to help people, and he liked to be challenged. He was just a tremendous individual.”

Ian McBeth is survived by a wife and three children among other family members, colleagues and friends.


© 2020 The Denver Post