Female power on display during Ferguson FireFree Access

Montanan,19, plays instrumental role in fighting fire from way above


Ann Hansen of Philipsburg, Mont. is shown standing beside a Sikorsky helicopter at the Mariposa Yosemite Airport. “They’re big guys,” she deadpanned about Sikorskys.

Ann Hansen of Philipsburg, Mont. is shown standing beside a Sikorsky helicopter at the Mariposa Yosemite Airport. “They’re big guys,” she deadpanned about Sikorskys.

Ann Hansen is young, but she isn’t letting that stop her from living her dream, even if it is a dream fraught with danger.

Hansen, 19, was in Mariposa over the last few weeks battling the Ferguson Fire — just not as a firefighter on the ground.

She is a copilot of a Sikorsky CH-54A Sky-crane helicopter. Along with her captain, Gregg Deacon, she has been flying into dangerous areas near the fire and dropping water and retardant to douse the flames.

“At most times out here, people ask if I’m with my dad or grandpa,” said Hansen in an interview while stationed at the Mariposa Yosemite Airport. “I look young for my age, like I’m still in high school.”

Indeed, Hansen looks like she could still be in high school. But don’t let the youthful face fool you. She’s up to the task.

“I’ve been very impressed with her, especially considering her minimal amount of experience,” said Deacon, the pilot. “It’s a complex aircraft and our mission is complex. She’s monitoring a lot of instruments and dealing with most of the radio calls. She’s doing a lot of multitasking. And we go into some difficult types of places.”

Ann Hansen, a helicopter copilot, is shown inside a Sikorsky used to battle flames in Mariposa County. The irony is that Hansen is afraid of heights. “I’m terrified of heights,” Hansen said. “It’s way different when you’re in an aircraft. You focus on what you’re doing.” Photos by Matt Johnson

Ann Hansen, a helicopter copilot, is shown inside a Sikorsky used to battle flames in Mariposa County. The irony is that Hansen is afraid of heights. “I’m terrified of heights,” Hansen said. “It’s way different when you’re in an aircraft. You focus on what you’re doing.” Photos by Matt Johnson

Hansen is from Philipsburg, Mont. It was there that she developed an interest in flying.

Her father worked as a ranch manager. Every year, Hansen would be inspired by watching crop dusters fly overhead.

Adding to her interest in flying was the fact that her father also wanted to be a helicopter pilot. Only he never took the opportunity.

“I always had that in my head growing up,” she says of wanting to fly a helicopter.

Ten days after she graduated high school, she started in flight school at Rocky Mountain Rotors, in Belgrade, Mont. Shortly thereafter, she transferred to Jerry Trimble Helicopters flight school in Oregon.

“I never had any previous aviation experience,” Hansen said. “It was overwhelming.”

She stuck with it, and in a short period of time, she became certified to become a helicopter co-pilot.

“My parents are thrilled with it,” Hansen said, acknowledging that in a way, she is fulfilling her father’s dream of flying.

She now works for Helicopter Transport Services and has the opportunity to work on fires as well as other special projects.

“It just depends where they need me to go,” said Hansen. “The challenge is fun.”

She admits there is danger in what she does. Engines could fail on the copter, or worse.

“Everything we do has a little risk,” Hansen said. “(But) it’s fun, for one, and you’re helping with something.”

Hansen’s end goal is to become a “PIC,” or a pilot in charge. Essentially, it’s the rank of captain.

“There is still a lot to explore,” she said.

There may be plenty to explore, but for someone who is only 19, Ann Hansen has already experienced quite a bit.

7 responses to “Female power on display during Ferguson Fire”

  1. Aggie and Joe Helle says:

    We are so happy with all you are doing. Go girl!!

  2. Tim Adamson says:

    PIC is Pilot in Command
    Helicopter rather than Chopper or Copter
    I have daughters that I wish would do this.
    I do feel that this young lady is inexperienced for the job considering that she started from scratch about a year ago. But if the Helicopter service wants to put her to work and the US Forest Approves, more power to her.

    I am a former forest fire pilot and airline pilot in fixed wing and an experienced Huey Helicopter pilot with a military contractor.

    • Thomas M Bertsch says:

      Please, please, be very careful. And Thank You for your Service. Cal-Fire placed a young inexperienced (Compared to those who held her position prior) woman on a Helicopter crew, and assigned her to this dangerous and critical kind of work. She ended up paying with her life. Just to satisfy their Affirmative Action Plan.

  3. Opal Y DeHart says:

    Young lady- you are a real hero to young women out here- and to old women like me too (80). Thank God you have spunk
    and are evidently very smart to do this in such a short time period. We need young women and young men to make a
    difference in this country and the world. You will be a wonderful inspiration for young women everywhere to reach for the
    stars or the skies and follow their dreams. You are a true trail blazer and will be remembered . GOD BLESS YOU AND BE CAREFUL. We need you around a long time to make a difference.

    • Scott Jones says:

      She’s able to do this due to education, knowledge, training, experience and science. (Note: There is no god. All religions are creation myths. Wake up. Grow up. All religions are mythologies. Fake. Failed sciences. If there was a god, 1) The fire wouldn’t have happened in the first place. 2) No one would have been killed or hurt in the fire. 3) You wouldn’t need firefighters because god would magically end the fire.)

      • Barbie says:

        With alll due respect, realize how much responsibility U R taking on by speaking as though U have wisdom & authority to direct human spirits. If U had read the Scriptures all the way from cover to cover, U would truly know why tragedy, suffering & death happens. We R all given freewill to choose our way or to surrender to His Way. Religion is evil, look behind the Constantine curtain of 2,000 yrs of deception. Return to the Ancient Way of Father Yehovah & Messiah Yehoshua (Yeshua). Scriptures prior to the 4th century R most accurate, due to Catholic Bishop Eusibius adding & taking away words. See aroodawakening.com, Manuscript # 792 Lambeth Palace, Nehemiah Gordon, Vatican Junk Box, Michael Rood, Ron Wyatt… it’s all coming to the surface now. The Scriptures always foretell events of past present & future w/ perfect accuracy. See the book; The Paradigm by Jonathan Cahn- it’s happening now to us, & what’s next.

  4. Jim Davis says:

    Congratulations Best of luck in all your endevors,Stay Safe.

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