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Carl Ray Payne

Pilot, Wildland

Pilot Payne had just dropped a load of fire retardant on a fire outside of Fort Stockton, Texas. The aircraft was an Air Tractor AT-802A. After the drop, Pilot Payne was circling two radio antenna (280 feet and 310 feet) when the outboard 5 feet of his right wing struck the antenna guide cables and support structure. Pilot Payne was able to level the aircraft and continued to fly; however, the aircraft was compromised and struck trees and terrain before coming to rest. Cable strands from the antenna towers were found among the aircraft wreckage. The cause of death for Pilot Payne was listed as multiple severe trauma. In a letter written to a friend just before his death, Pilot Payne said that the year 2000 was going to be his last year flying for a living and that he was going to relax with his hobbies and his family. He said that he was told by a good friend that life was not a dress rehearsal, it was the real thing, and that he was going for it. Additional information related to this incident may be found in National Transportation Safety Board Accident Investigation FTW00TA142.
photo of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial
Carl Ray Payne was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was included in the USFA’s annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States.

Department information

Texas Forest Service
Rural Fire Defense
P.O Box 310
Lufkin, Texas 75901

Chief: Bobby Young

Age: 66
Rank: Pilot, Wildland
Classification: Career
Incident date: May 7, 2000 13:00
Date of death: May 7, 2000
Cause of death: Struck By
Nature of death: Trauma
Activity type: Advance Hose Lines/Fire Attack (includes Wildland)
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Outdoor Property

Last updated: June 13, 2012