Ian McBeth was a C-130 pilot with the Wyoming and Montana Air Guard, completing multiple firefighting missions across the United States and serving in the private sector fighting wildland fires.
Ian’s childhood was quintessential (He would have hated that word, but it means the pure and essential essence of something.) of a small ranching community, fostering love of animals and reverence for hard work. A standout athlete at Wray High School in Wray, Colorado, Ian earned 11 varsity letters in football, wrestling, and track. He was a mainstay of the 1993 State Championship football team and a perennial placer in the state track meet at 1600 and 800 meters. Ian was known for his humor and hijinks and his toughness, determination, and skill, a theme repeated throughout his life.
At the University of Wyoming, Ian ran track, earning WAC Academic All-Conference. He earned several academic honors and graduated with a M.S. in Range Management. He was the main character in many adventures where he acquired the title “The Instigator,” a nickname used throughout his life.
Ian’s love of adventure and service to others led him to the military. Enlisting in the Wyoming Air Guard in 1996 as a construction specialist, he was later commissioned as a C-130 navigator and pilot. Over his career, Ian completed multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2013, he joined the Montana Air Guard, becoming a pivotal part of the 120th Airlift Wing’s conversion from F-15 fighters to C-130s. A patient instructor who held his fellow airmen to his own high standards, he is remembered for his incredible competence as a pilot, teacher and evaluator, his unbounded humor, and a constant twinkle in his eye.
Ian’s first passion in life was his family. He and Bowdie had three beautiful, clever, and adventurous children. Abigail, Calvin, and Ella were his pride and joy and loved joining their father on whatever scheme he had cooked up, spending time outside skiing, hiking, camping, and kayaking. Ian dreamed up and executed family adventures with his parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews to the Black Hills, Fort Robinson State Park, Glacier National Park, the Delaware shore, and the Grand Canyon, to name a few. Uncle Ian was the main character in every trip’s greatest adventure, whether it was an overwhelming success or epic failure.
Ian lost his life in New South Wales, Australia, doing what he loved—flying and helping others. Ian’s death has reminded us of his passion for life, his service to others, and the dogged determination with which he faced any challenge.