Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Montana Pilot Among Three Killed in Crash

Associated Press

A Lolo, Mont., pilot was one of three men killed Saturday when their fire-retardant bomber crashed in California, the family said.

Robert L. Buc, 61, died when his C-130 Hercules tanker exploded in mid-air and crashed in the Angeles National Forest near Palmdale, about 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles, Jerry Buc told the Missoulian newspaper in an interview from his Texas home.

Friends and relatives said Robert Buc retired from the Navy as a lieutenant commander after more than two decades of service and about 500 aircraft carrier landings. He had flown fire retardant-type planes for about 18 years.

“He was a natural for it because of all his experience in the Navy,” Jerry Buc, a retired Navy pilot, said about his brother’s ability to meticulously position his huge plane for the most effective slurry drop.


Buc’s death has not yet been officially confirmed. The U.S. Forest Service in California said that the Los Angeles County coroner would release identification of the three killed. But a coroner’s office spokesman said Tuesday it had no identification of the dead.

Jerry Buc was told of his brother’s crash late Saturday afternoon by the owner of Hemet Valley Flying Service, a California company that contracts retardant planes to the U.S. Forest Service.