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Forestry Fire Pilot

Under general direction, the Forestry Fire Pilot flies a helicopter throughout the State over all types of terrain, assists in all aspects of fire prevention, suppression, and vegetation management, and performs required preventive maintenance on helicopters, as well as does other related work.

Typical Tasks

Pilot a helicopter in single pilot operation over all types of terrain in aerial firefighting, hauling firefighters and inmates to and from fires, hauling cargo, both internal and external, and dropping water and retardant on fires from helicopter-carried water buckets or tanks.

Fly routine and emergency missions such as search and rescue, medivacs, reconnaissance, law enforcement, serial photography, and administrative flights.

Support prescribed burning projects by hauling various serial ignition devices to ignite prescribed fires.

Be responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the helicopter.

Perform preventive maintenance plus limited inspections and maintenance on helicopters while under the direction of a licensed aircraft mechanic.

Act as air operations officer on occasions, which would include special projects, training, and inspecting rental aircraft pilots, plus other aviation management tasks and duties as assigned.

Minimum Qualifications


Possession of a valid Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) Commercial Airman Certificate with rotorcraft-helicopter rating or a valid FAA Airline Transport Pilot's Certificate with a rotorcraft- helicopter rating.


Possession of a valid and current Class II Airman's Medical Certificate issued by an FAA authorized medical examiner.


Possession of a valid driver license of the appropriate class issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Applicants who do not possess this license will be admitted to the examination but must secure the license prior to appointment.


  • Applicants must have logged at least 2,000 hours of pilot-in-command flying helicopters, which must include the following:
  • At least 500 hours of mountain pilot-in-command helicopter flight time, routinely making landings in mountainous terrain above 4,000 feet MSL.
  • At least 500 hours of turbine helicopter time as pilot-in-command.
  • 250 hours as pilot-in-command of helicopters performing low level missions in fire control, map survey, powerline patrol, search and rescue, and spray or seeding operations over mountain or forested or comparable military operations.
  • At least 100 hours as pilot-in-command in helicopters carrying sling loads.
  • At least 50 hours as pilot-in-command in helicopters in the past year.


The applicant must have knowledge of safe helicopter operating procedures, State and federal forest and fire laws, as well as regulations of the Department of Transportation, FAA, and other regulations governing civil aircraft movements. Must also be knowledgeable about the terrain, weather, and flying conditions in California.


Must be able to skillfully pilot a helicopter using all known devices and attachments associated with helicopter forestry firefighting while making correct and sound decisions on their use in practical applications; operate a helicopter under hazardous conditions.

Special Personal Characteristics

Applicant must have keenness of observation, mental alertness, tact, and be in good physical condition.

Additional Desirable Qualifications

Forest-fire fighting experience with helicopters is desirable.


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