Imagine traveling at 140 miles per hour through dense curtains of smoke at a mere 60 feet above the canopy of a raging wildfire. Now you might have some idea of the type of danger that wildfire pilots like Andy Taylor deal with during the course of their workday.

The rapid response of pilots fighting fires from the sky is a critical component of wildland fire management as aviators race to keep fires limited and the firefighters on the ground safe. “I’ve seen a fire go from 2 acres to 300 acres in ten minutes,” says Taylor, who later adds, “A lot of times we’re not going to be able to put the fire out. All we’re doing is helping the people on the ground.”

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