George E. Willett Jr.

George E. Willett Jr.

Submitted by his Wife

Sandy Willett‚ a good man who was loved and respected for who he was and how he lived‚ died on Wednesday‚ September 6‚ 2006‚ while doing a reconnaissance flight for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection over a dangerous area where three fires had erupted in the previous days.

Sandy was born in Fresno‚ California‚ on October 3‚ 1953‚ to George E. Willett‚ Sr. and Dolores Elder Willett. An Eagle Scout and a Police Explorer‚ Sandy also spent most of his summers crop dusting with his father. An avid aviator throughout his life‚ Sandy grew up surrounded by planes and received his pilot’s license at an early age.

‘He was a perfectionist‚’ is how Bob Wolf‚ the president of CDF Firefighters‚ said his colleagues described him. ‘Sandy was methodical. The best firefighters trusted him when the inherently dangerous flights needed to be taken. He understood the risks associated with his job.’

Adventurous‚ caring‚ incredibly friendly‚ reliable‚ and just plain fun‚ Sandy completely embraced life.

He was a policeman who graduated from the College of Sequoias Police Academy in Visalia‚ California. His was with the Lemoore Police Department before transferring to the Santa Barbara Police Department Motorcycle Unit. He was proud to participate in a police escort for then President Ronald Reagan. He transferred to the University Police Department‚ where he worked from 1983-1987.

Sandy could not imagine a life without flying. He went to work for Apollo Airways as a pilot. He relocated to Huron‚ California‚ and joined Willett International Air Racing and became a pilot for Willett Crop Dusting. Sandy saw a lot from the air and began a long love affair with the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley and its rich agricultural heritage. In a search for adventure and far away places‚ Sandy started flying in Columbia‚ South America‚ as part of the Federal drug eradication program.

He then went to work for the California Department of Forestry and DynCorp as an air attack pilot based in the Porterville Air Tactical Base.

No one who ever met Sandy was a stranger. He was respected for his professionalism. He was a great pilot. That’s just a fact. He was also the kind of man whom others loved to be around.

Sandy is survived by his loving wife and best friend for a long time‚ Judy. Sandy leaves behind many beloved friends.