The thought of flight and the consuming power of fire has fascinated mankind for centuries. Who hasn’t looked up wondering what it would be like to soar among the clouds? Who hasn’t sat mesmerized, staring into a campfire? The translucent red flames reaching toward the sky somehow hold us captive. For a select few, fire and flight go hand in hand.
“Like most kids, I wanted to be an astronaut,” says helicopter pilot Cliff Walters. Walters learned to fly in the army. After three years serving as a medic, he reenlisted, specifically to become a pilot. He served as a wildland firefighter for several seasons, then worked with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department as a helicopter pilot. Fighting fires from the skies for the last twenty years, Walters flies a UH1H Super Huey as a forestry fire pilot. “In Southern California, we live each day with the thought of fire.”