Previous Awards Winners

The International Aerial Firefighting Awards winner is honoured every calendar year. Any person who has made a significant contribution to furthering the safety and/or efficiency in aerial firefighting is eligible to be nominated.


The Awards may recognise contributions either over recent year(s) or over a sustained period.  The recipients must be of good character and good standing.


Jim Barnes, CAL FIRE / DynCorp (retd) -  2018 winner

Jim Barnes, as a Cal Fire air tanker pilot and instructor, was heavily involved in safety and effectiveness of aerial firefighting.  He created the AAP (which became AAF) and the CFPA to regroup and negotiate a safer and more efficient industry.  He proved the S-2T and initial attack were the way forward for California and he really believed better days would come and never gave up.


Jacques Bonneval, Sécurité Civile -  2017 winner

Jacques' numerous contributions he provided to aerial firefighting, both at home and beyond national borders. After 15 years in the French Navy Aviation, Jacques  brought his extensive operational experience to the National Aerial Fire Fighting organisation where he put in place policies and processes to further enhance air-to-ground cooperation for safer, more efficient and more effective use of waterbombers while responding to highest pilots’ management responsibilities. As a rare contributor to the furthering of safety and efficiency in aerial firefighting Jacques Bonneval fully represents what the Walt Darran International Aerial Firefighting Award stands for and complies to the fullest extent to all standards and requirements.


Jim Cook, CAL FIRE - 2016 winner 

Jim, formerly of CAL FIRE, was recognised for his 44 years of aerial firefighting as a tanker pilot and flew more than 10,000 hours of aerial firefighting and thousands of drops, while also playing a role as tanker pilot instructor.  Jim’s most evident achievement was the design and implementation of the Fire Traffic Area (FTA). After the tragic loss of two pilots in a mid-air collision, Jim was volunteered by Walt Darran to be the driving force in addressing the problem.

Philippe Bodino, National Bureau of Administrative Investigation & Control - 2015 winner 

Philippe, from France’s National Bureau of Administrative Investigation & Control – part of the Ministry of Interior - was the second recipient of the Award.  Philippe contributed to the improvement of aerial operational procedures in the fight against forest fires.  He participated in the development of France’s national strategy in massive aerial attack when a wildfire starts.  He has constantly improved safety of pilots and first responders. 

George Patterson, National Transportation Safety Board 2014 winner

George, formerly the investigator of the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), was the first recipient of the Aerial Firefighting Award in 2014.  George received the award because he was personally instrumental in determining the cause of two fatal crashes of air tankers in 2002. His actions have lifted the bar on airtanker maintenance and new programs have been implemented since to improve safety of aerial firefighters globally.