The pilot of a crashed water bomber near Braidwood is a 43-year-old husband and father, confirms the Rural Fire Service.

Authorities have confirmed that the pilot of a plane which crashed while fighting bushfires west of Ulladulla has died.

He was trying to do the right thing, fighting the fires and for something like this to happen – it’s just tragic. Life just doesn’t seem fair sometimes

David Black, 43, a husband and father-of-three from Trangie in central NSW, was waterbombing when his plane crashed in rugged bushland on Thursday morning.

A file photo showing David Black flying upside down.A photo of David Black flying upside down. Photo: Facebook

Shoalhaven local area commander Superintendent Joe Cassar said an ambulance officer had been winched into the remote area where the crash occurred and confirmed Mr Black was dead.


Emergency staff have been unable to recover his body as fires are still burning in the area, which is described as exceptionally rough terrain.

”As soon as conditions are in our favour, we will retrieve the pilot,” Superintendent Cassar said.

An image taken by Fairfax Media reporter Tom McIlroy of the scene of the search for the aircraft.Fire ground in the Budawang National Park near where the RFS aircraft has gone down. Photo: Tom McIlroy

He said it was a tragic day for Mr Black’s family and the Rural Fire Service.

”Thoughts would have to go out to his family who have to deal with the grief of losing a husband and father,” he said.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, who lost his own father in a bushfire, paid tribute to the pilot.

Shoalhaven Local Area Command Superintendent Joe Cassar.

jo cassar2.jpgThoughts go out to his family: Shoalhaven Local Area Command Superintendent Joe Cassar. jo cassar2.jpg Photo: Robert Crawford

”It’s a tragedy for the fire fighting community but first and foremost it’s a tragedy for this man’s family,” he said.

”He’s a husband with young children and we’re all acutely aware that there’s a family suffering today because their dad didn’t come home.”

The pilot’s co-workers are continuing to fight the fire in the area 40 kilometres west of Ulladulla.


The Acting Chief of the Defence Force, Air Marshall Mark Binskin, said the tragedy illustrated the risky nature of fighting fires.

”As a pilot, I appreciate the dangers of operations like this and any accident like this really does hit home,” he said.

Narromine mayor Bill McAnally said the pilot was well known in the Trangie community, where he moved about three years ago with his young family.

Cr McAnally said the small community of 1,000 people would feel the loss immensely.

“He was trying to do the right thing, fighting the fires and for something like this to happen – it’s just tragic,” he said.

“Life just doesn’t seem fair sometimes. We really feel for his family and loved ones.” He described the pilot as a decent, hard-working family man with a big heart.

“It’s a great loss to our area because he was a real community man,” he said.

An officer from the Air Transport Safety Bureau has also been sent to the area to investigate the crash site once it is safe to do so.

It’s understood his wife, Julie, is on her way to the Shoalhaven area.