Frequently Asked Questions

What is the AAF?

Created in the early 90s, the Associated Airtanker Pilots (AAP) is a fraternal non-profit organization whose members have a common interest in the aerial firefighting industry. Included in this definition are fixed and rotary wing aircraft that a) drop fire retardant, foam or water, b) fly in a lead plane or tactical air-control capacity and/or c) provide logistics support or personnel deployment missions at fire incidents. In 2010, the name was changed to the Association of Aerial Firefighters (AAF), to more accurately reflect our diverse membership.

For IRS purposes, AAP is a 501c6 organization while the AAP Memorial Trust Fund is a 501c3.

Please visit our history page for more details.

Why was the AAF formed?

Our primary goals are to provide a safer and more efficient aerial firefighting environment, and to improve the social welfare of the pilots, crew members, and their families. Topical areas of discussion range from pilot qualifications and training, to flight safety systems such as TCAS, to benefit programs such as the Memorial Fund and PSOB.

This is currently accomplished via several methods:

  • We improve ongoing inter-pilot and intra-industry communications by maintaining a website that includes a message board.
  • We enhance the communications among flight personnel, contract operators, industry vendors and contracting agencies by meeting once every year.
  • We document and disseminate an informed position to interested parties by maintaining standing committees that collect information on key topics, such as safety and benefits.
  • We educate the public about the aerial firefighting environment and current issues affecting various federal, state and local fire suppression programs by providing information via our website and supporting other community-based activities.
  • We provide immediate financial and emotional assistance to the families of aerial firefighters killed in the line of duty by maintaining the AAP Memorial Fund
  • We honor and remember fallen aerial firefighting heroes by maintaining a comprehensive memorial page on our website and attending special commemoration events.

Who can become a member?

The leadership and voting memberships of AAP is restricted to career pilots and crewmen, i.e. people who have been “carded” or otherwise certified to fly fire suppression missions. General membership is open to any member of the public that has an interest in the aerial firefighting environment or wishes to support these aerial firefighting professionals.

Why should I join?

Everyone benefits from a strong and varied aerial firefighting force. Wildland fires, especially those that grow large due to high winds and/or access issues, are extinguished only through the cooperation of a wide range of firefighting “tools.” Aerial resources are often times the first units on scene, and play an important role in supporting our hard working ground forces.

The firefighters in our industry, be they pilots, crewmembers, or ground support, may be employed by a wide variety of government agencies, or by private contractors, big and small. Employee benefits and support vary widely, and the united front provided by the AAF can help to supplement and enhance these, with the goal of strengthening, and insuring the longevity of, our aerial firefighting force.

The greater our membership, the greater our support, the better we’ll be able to accomplish our goals.

How much are dues?

Captain (For carded airtanker, helicopter, and air tactical pilots): $150 first year membership; $100/year renewal

Associate Member with voting rights (For retired fire pilots, current and retired fire personnel such as ATGS’s, firefighters, fire support personnel, etc., who wish to vote on AAF issues): $150 first year membership; $100/year renewal.

Associate Member (Directed towards Associated Members as described above who do not wish to vote on AAF issues) $100 first year membership; $50/year renewal.

Auxiliary Member (Open to all members of the general public interested in supporting the AAF organization): $30/year.

Click here to join.

How are my dues spent?

The bulk of the AAF dues go toward our Memorial Fund, to aid pilot’s and crewmember’s families in the event of an accident. Unlike other death benefits (for which many of our members are not eligible), the AAF is able to write a check directly to a family in need, with no delays.

Dues money also goes toward annual meetings, fund raising events, and public awareness projects.

How else can I become involved?

One of the most important thing that any of us can do, is to become educated about the role of aerial firefighting (all of the tools, as they are all unique, and all play different and valuable roles), what it can, and can’t do, and work to educate others. This includes talking to friends and neighbors, speaking to local social groups or clubs, and writing letters to your local politicians.
Monetary donations to the AAF Memorial Fund are always welcome, to insure that the loved one’s of our fallen firefighters are provided for, in their time of need.

There are also many other ways that you can contribute your time to the AAF. We are always looking for contributions to this website. These may be pictures for the Gallery, articles for the Hot Topics section, or contributions to the History, Safety, or Links sections.

For more ways to help, or if you have further questions, comments or suggestions, you may use our contact page.