Scott Bernard Thomas of Stanwood, Washington, died while fighting wildland fire in southern Nevada as an airtanker pilot. Born July 11, 1956, to George and Juliette Thomas, Scott grew up in the hill and valley areas of San Francisco’s East Bay and loved the land and its many creatures.
After graduating from Acalanes High School in Lafayette in the early 1970s, Scott traveled to the upper Midwest and later to the wild coast of northwest California, where he began to develop practical tradesman skills that would serve him, his friends, and clients well throughout his life. He moved to the Puget Sound area in Washington, met and married Joanne, and celebrated the birth of his first child, Nicole. Scott continued to develop his tradesman’s skills while gaining skill, training, and experience in his great love of flying.
Scott became a respected and in-demand bush pilot in Alaska, serving the outlying fishing and hunting lodges. In other seasons, he commuted to the San Juan Islands and western Washington or visited family in California, piloting planes he had built from scratch or restored by hand. He built and flew specialty acrobatic and sport racing aircraft, became a flight instructor and an accredited air mechanic, and obtained a helicopter rating.
Through the years, he served in many contexts, flying tourists to explore the Florida Keys, moving air freight in the Pacific Northwest, and piloting planes to care for crops in California. Eventually, he served as a firefighting pilot throughout the American West and in Australia. Scott founded Thomas Air in Mongolia, pioneering the development of private, general aviation for a variety of needs, from tourism to natural resource mapping and protection. In 2012, he made aviation history by flying a single-engine plane from the US to Mongolia in two days, covering 5500 miles.
An extraordinary pilot, multi-skilled craftsman, and loving father, he leaves behind daughters, Nicole Cothran and Jewel Leanne Thomas; sons, William Iveel Thomas and Scott Oso Thomas; and their mothers, Joanne, Addie, and Daka. He is also survived by his mother, Julie; brothers, Randy, Brian, and Stan; sister-in-law, Susan Berry; his Uncle Stan and Aunt Susan Hone; niece, Jennifer Castello, and family; and cousins on the Thomas and Hone sides.
Scott’s life demonstrated an expansive appreciation of life’s adventure and joy. He loved his family, supported his friends and community, respected and protected nature, and advocated fairness in governance and human relations. His example inspires us to realize these qualities in our own lives.