National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Age: 37
Year of Death: 2020

Bryan “BJ” Boatman

In July 2020, Bryan “BJ” Boatman, 37, lost his life in a helicopter crash while supporting ground crews fighting the wildland Polles Fire in Arizona.

BJ belonged in the sky. He grew up watching his dad fly helicopters as well as serving with Glendale Fire Department in Arizona. He always admired his father’s dedication to the fire and aviation community.

As a young adult, BJ decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. He became a third-generation dual rated pilot. He flew many summers with both the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management fighting wildland fires all over Arizona, Montana, Washington, Nevada, and Texas. BJ found much pride in his work and his service to his state and country.

In addition to his service to the community, BJ worked diligently for nearly 25 years alongside his parents to build their company, Airwest Helicopters, of Glendale, Arizona. He dreamed of expanding and continuing to provide support to the wildland fire fight.

BJ was a natural teacher and a mentor to many. He taught, supported, and encouraged young pilots as they found their place in the aviation industry, leaving behind a wonderful legacy as a pilot that no one will forget.

While he found his passion in the skies, when he was back on the ground, his passion was his wife, Elizabeth, and daughter, Claire. Together, the three were an adventurous family. They loved to travel, try new things, and learn about many cultures and people.

Bryan was an unstoppable force. He strived to experience everything the world had to offer. He had an unquenchable thirst for adventure and knowledge.

The hole left in our family and hearts will always yearn for him.


Memorial Posts

Elizabeth Boatman
Scholarship Profile

Memorial Wall

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  1. I am honored to make the first post here on Mr. Boatman’s Wall. I never met nor knew him, but I can tell by his biography he was a great person. It takes a brave, strong, and kind soul to fly in helicopters over fires. I cannot imagine how many lives he saved, how many people he helped, and how many familes he let grow. He was an adventurous person. I strive to be like him. May you rest in peace, Mr. Boatman. I will always remember you.

    – Jake Suggs
  2. Tomorrow it will be two years since you passed brother. Thank you for the memories growing up with you and camping. Then working alongside you with your folks at Airwest till I got picked up with the city of Goodyear. Love you and miss you brother. I know you are still flying and watching over the fire family.

    – Jared Weimer
  3. BJ… For 20 yrs, a friend to our son & to us & brought us together with his parents & family, who became friends. Still. He always took the time to talk to me, this old woman, educating me in things I did not know. I think of him, & his family, often & today I note that it’s going to be 3 yrs this July 7th & the pain of his passing lingers still… But, the memories are good ones. As my 4 yr old daughter said to me in 1981, “he’s flying with the angels now”. Godspeed, BJ.

    – Jackie & Jack Geesey