USA — Both pilots who died in a midair collision over northern Nevada’s desert were from Oregon, including a longtime firefighter and paramedic who often flew spotter planes over forest fires in his spare time, authorities said Tuesday.
The two pilots of the small aircraft collided about 8 a.m. Sunday during an informal fly-in at a dry lake bed in Lyon County near Yerington about 60 miles southeast of Reno.
Capt. Thomas R. Weiss of Roseburg was a 22-year veteran of the Winston-Dillard Fire District in southwest Oregon and served the past 12 years as captain and paramedic. The past three fire seasons, he flew the spotter plane for the Douglas (County) Forest Protective Association, The (Roseburg) News Review first reported on Tuesday.
“This is a tragic loss to the entire central Douglas County Fire Service,” District Fire Chief Greg Marlar said.
“Tom was a professional that gave 110 percent of himself to his profession and the community he served,” he said in a statement Monday night. “I have some sense of comfort knowing that Tom was doing one of the things he loved most.”
Tyler Adams, 28, Corvallis, Oregon, also died in the crash, the Lyon County sheriff’s office said in a statement late Tuesday afternoon. It wasn’t clear if they knew each other. The sheriff’s office said the identity of the second pilot had not been officially confirmed and that no other new information was available.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said Tuesday.
The single-engine Cessna 170 and an experimental aircraft crashed in midair near Wabuska north of Yerington, the sheriff’s office said earlier.
The pilots were the planes’ only occupants, and no one on the ground was hurt, sheriff’s officials said. They said participants on the ground heard a sound a distance away and saw falling debris and smoke, sending them running or driving to the crash site.
“Deputies met with witnesses on scene who stated that two airplanes collided north of the dry lake bed and crashed into the side of a hill,” sheriff’s Sgt. Ryan Powell said.