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Fri, Apr 22, 2005

Wednesday's Tanker Crash Double Tragedy For Pilots' Family

One Pilot's Brother Died In 1995 Tanker Mishap

Wednesday's crash of a firefighting tanker in northern California was a double tragedy for the family pilot Paul Cockrell. You see, Paul's brother died in a 1995 mid-air while fighting a forest fire in the Anza-Borrego State Park, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Gary Cockrell was at the controls of an Aero Union P-3 when his aircraft collided with a Beechcraft spotter plane also working the Anza-Borrego fire. Cockrell, copilot Lisa Netsch and the pilot of the Beech, Michael Smith, were all killed in the mishap.

Witnesses said Smith's spotter plane appeared to impact the upper fuselage of the P-3, shearing away the vertical stabilizer. Even with their aircraft heavily damaged and going down, Cockrell and Netsch were credited with maneuvering to avoid a tract of homes in their way.

Before Wednesday, it was the last aviation accident involving an aircraft flying for Aero Union.

FMI: www.aerounion.com

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