Brandon Seth Ricks was born to Debra and Melvin, in Chickasaw, Oklahoma, on November 15, 1974. In 1998, he moved to Louisiana to go to aircraft mechanic school while working for T&M Aviation. He fell in love with the aircraft world and became a pilot, moving up the ladder to become one of their top pilots. He loved his job; they were our extended family.
He loved flying and said, “I feel so much peace in the air; I feel the closest to God there.” He was a humble, grounded man, well-loved in the forest community and among his peers. He started working wildland fires during the off season and loved concentrating on keeping that bucket still while flying his helicopter. If there was an opportunity to push himself to be better, he always overachieved it!
On March 30, 2015, Brandon was working a controlled burn when something went wrong with the helicopter. He was such an amazing pilot that he only hit three trees coming down and landed in a big enough spot for his helicopter. He saved all of them that day, but there was only one survivor. My husband and his copilot, Steve Cobb, went home to be with our Lord.
Brandon’s faith grew by leaps and bounds in the years prior to his death. He always had a huge heart, but he became more observant and talked about an inner peace that he had never felt before. He always referred to his favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 40:31: But those who wait on the Lord, Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
Besides faith, family was most important to Brandon. When he came off the road, he flew over the house, tipped his rotary blade, waved at us with a big cheesy grin, and flew off to the airport. When he pulled up to the house, our sweet, amazing kiddos would rush past me and leap into his arms. While he loved on our babies, playing with them and asking and answering questions, he did not take his eyes off me! He would gently peel the kids off, walk towards me, and kiss me three times. We were married for 13½ years, and it was a fairy tale marriage. With faith, God, and our little family, we were well loved and cherished.
Brandon is deeply missed in the forest community and by his wife, Colleen, and his two children, Kaitlynn (13) and Hunter (11). His family of both amazing sets of parents, his brother, nephews, niece, grandmother, aunt, uncle, cousins, and T&M Aviation family will miss him for a lifetime. With time, the good memories, laughter, and amazing stories come more easily. I am his forever and always widow, and he is my forever and always first love.