Firefighting pilots make miraculous escape

Friday 10 Feb 2023

The chief executive of a Vancouver Island aviation company is headed to Australia to meet with two of his American pilots who walked away from a serious crash while on a firefighting mission in the bush east of Perth.

The experienced pilots were flying over a blaze near Fitzgerald River National Park on Monday when they were forced to crash-land their aircraft – a Boeing 737 passenger jet modified to drop flame retardant – in a forest, eventually climbing out the cockpit windows and down some trees to get away relatively unscathed.

Aerial footage posted to social media shows the plane engulfed in flames shortly after the crash, and aerial photos taken later indicate the aircraft was almost completely consumed, save for the tips of its wings and its tail.

“It’s hard to fathom,” Coulson Group CEO Wayne Coulson told The Globe and Mail late Tuesday night from Vancouver International Airport. “It’s probably one of the best aviation stories ever.”

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