James ‘Jim’ Ramage died August 5‚ 2008‚ in a helicopter crash‚ along with the pilot and seven firefighters. An aviation leader with extensive flying experience and knowledge‚ he was performing his duties as a helicopter inspection pilot for the U.S. Forest Service. Jim dedicated himself and his career to help provide for the safety of others.
Jim’s aviation career began as a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1970. He served a tour of duty in Vietnam and was awarded a Bronze Star. He served with Air America in Southeast Asia from 1970 to 1974. In 1974‚ he began his firefighting career with Evergreen Helicopter‚ Inc. and flew as a contract pilot for both the U.S. Forest Service and CAL Fire until 1978. He then worked as a contract pilot for Redding Air Service in Redding‚ California‚ flying across the western United States.
Jim worked for CAL Fire for 20 years and was their first forestry pilot. He carried Badge #1 for forestry pilots. He was promoted to air operations officer and served as CAL Fire’s chief helicopter pilot‚ and later as aviation safety officer‚ until his retirement in 2003.
Jim had a real passion for aviation. In fact‚ his love of firefighting and helicopters was so strong that‚ after eleven days of retirement‚ he began working for the U.S. Forest Service as a helicopter inspection pilot working out of McClellan‚ California. In 2006‚ Jim and his family moved back to Redding with the U.S. Forest Service.
Jim received a Medal of Merit from the Ventura County Peace Officers’ Association. He was also awarded the Governor’s Safety Award from the California Department of Forestry.
He is survived by his wife of 38 years‚ Diane‚ and his daughter‚ Ginger.
Jim’s passion for aviation and his love of the job and the people he worked with made him one of the most highly respected aviators in the industry.
Jim always had a ready smile and a twinkle in his eyes.