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Air tanker that went down in Australia battled fires in SLO County

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Posted at 8:49 AM, Jan 24, 2020

CAL FIRE SLO is mourning the loss of the crew from Coulson Air Tanker 134 that crashed in Australia Thursday.

This crew and aircraft previously protected the San Luis Obispo area.

The three firefighters who died were from Montana, Arizona, and Florida.

Coulson Aviation, the company that owned the plane that went down, announced the names of the deceased in a press release.


Captain Ian McBeth from Great Falls, Montana is survived by his wife, and his two children. McBeth spent all of his career flying C-130 aircraft.

He served in the Montana Air National Guard. He was 44 years old.


First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson was from Buckeye, Arizona, and is survived by his wife.

He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1999 and spent the next 20 years serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in several positions including C-130 pilot. He was 42 years old.

Flight Engineer Rick Demorgan Jr. had two children and served in the U.S. Air Force with 18 years experience as a flight engineer on the C-130.

He had over 4,000 hours as a flight engineer with nearly 2,000 in a combat zone.

He was from Navarre, Florida and was 43 years old.

The three firefighters died when their C-130 aircraft went down Thursday in the state of New South Wales, Australia.

Coulsen Airlines said in the statement they are committed to supporting the families through the tragedy and they have been moved by the outpouring of support from Australia and around the world.