The Walt Darran International AFF Awards


The Walt Darran International Aerial Firefighting Awards are presented annually to recognise a significant contribution by an individual or organisation to aerial firefighting. The Awards were inaugurated in honour of the late Walt Darran and are previously known as 'Walt Darran Award'. Walt was a pioneer and advocate for advances in aerial firefighting. Being a highly experienced S2-T airtanker pilot and former highly decorated US Navy aviator from California, USA, Walt was a constant and passionate advocate for safety and improvement in the international aerial firefighting community.  

The Walt Darran International  AFF Awards 2019 Winners

For the first time the Award for Aerial Firefighting Innovation and Advancement was presented jointly to Kestrel Aviation of Australia, Coulson Aviation of Canada and Mr Wayne Rigg from Emergency Management Victoria in Australia, for their ground breaking, collaborative work in developing safe and effective practices for aerial firefighting at night using helicopters equipped with Night Vision Goggles. It is especially fitting to make this award jointly, as it recognises the fact it was a collaborative project where the organisations worked together to improve aerial firefighting and to deliver new capabilities.


The Award in the Aerial Firefighting Safety category was presented to Riccardo Filippi for demonstrating his incredible ability to work and fly safely in international missions. Riccardo is a CL-415 captain at Babcock Mission Critical Services of Italy, operator for the Government-owned firefighting fleet, and for the last 15 years he has been extensively flying over wildfires, giving his contribution both nationwide and abroad, where different operational standards and procedures - together with higher risk of miscommunication - represent critical points in safety.

The Walt Darran Aerial Firefighting Awards 2019 ceremony took place on 19th March during the AFF Europe 2019 conference dinner. Read the full announcement.

The Nomination Process for 2020 Awards will open in September 2019.


The next Awards ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Aerial Firefighting North America 2020 Conference Dinner in Sacramento CA, USA in March 2020:

Awards History

Find our more about the Awards here...

Previous Winners

View the previous Awards winners here...

Nomination Process

The nomination process opens in September 2019