Air tanker collision near Caliente

Updated as of 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 20: The pilots from the July 30 plane crash have officially been identified as David Blake Haynes and Scott Thomas.

CALIENTE, Nev. —A mid-air collision involving two Department of the Interior-contracted Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) occurred on the Bishop Fire, approximately 17 miles southwest of Caliente. 

The incident occurred at approximately 12:55 p.m. today, July 30. Both pilots were killed in the crash. Recovery operations are currently underway and initial notifications are still being made.  

“We offer our sincere condolences to the families of the two pilots and to all those working with the BLM Nevada Ely District,” said BLM Nevada State Director Jon Raby. 

SEATs are small airplanes used to support firefighters on the ground. They can deliver up to 800 gallons of fire retardant and operate in areas where larger airtankers cannot. Contract pilots play an important role in wildland firefighting efforts as the BLM protects the public, natural landscapes, wildlife habitat, recreational areas, and other values and resources. 

The incident is under investigation. 

This year, we invite everyone to reimagine your public lands as we celebrate 75 years of the BLM’s stewardship and service to the American people. The BLM manages approximately 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. 

Release Date


Bureau of Land Management


Ely District Office


Chris Hanefeld