Firefighting pilot farewelled in memorial service in Australia

Pilot Allan Tull, known as “Tully” to the Australian helicopter community was posthumously awarded the NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner’s Commendation for Service during a memorial service held in New South Wales, Australia yesterday.

Pilot Allan “Tully” Tull was piloting this BK-117 operated by Sydney Helicopters for the New South Wales Rural Fire Service when it crashed during firefighting efforts in Westerns New South Wales, Australia. Image by James Williams

“Tully” lost his life doing what he loved on August 18th while fighting the Kingman fire outside of Ulludulla in western New South Wales when his firefighting BK117 struck a tree for as yey unknown reasons.

The memorial service, held at Bankstown Airport outside of Sydney at the hangar of Sydney Helicopters who owned the BK-117 that was contracted to fight the Kingman fire for the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. The award given posthumously to Mr Tull was accepted by family members, presented by NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.

Tully was posthumously awarded a commendation for his actions during a memorial service held yesterday in Bankstown. Photo courtesy NSWRFS

The award citation stating in part:

“Allan James Tull known as ‘Tully’ to his friends and colleagues, was born in New Zealand in April 1961. With a passion and love for flying Allan Tull was first introduced to the skies in 1988 when gaining a student pilot’s licence. Further refining and learning Allan Tull was later awarded his Commercial Helicopter Pilots Licence in late 1998.

Since gaining his pilot’s licence, Allan Tull has logged over numerous decades thousands of flying hours across a broad range of industries including firefighting, mining, hunting and fishing in New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Inner Mongolia, China, United States, Canada and Guam.”

Tully was well known in the Australian helicopter community, having flown thousands of hours since obtaining his commercial helicopter rating in 1998. NSWRFS photo.

On Friday 17 August 2018, whilst flying a BK117 Helicopter for Sydney Helicopters, Allan Tull was tasked to water bomb the Kingiman Fire within the Shoalhaven Local Government Area. A task that Allan had done so many times for so many communities across New South Wales. Flight crews played a critical role in containing the Kingiman fire enabling ground crews to consolidate containment lines. During this water bombing operation an unfortunate event occurred that resulted in Allan tragically losing his life while protecting communities.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service offer to the family and friends of Allan Tull our deepest condolences. Allan Tull or “Tully” will always be remembered as an accomplished pilot and member of the firefighting fraternity for his professionalism and courage which will never be forgotten.”

Tully’s funeral service will be held in his native New Zealand later next week.

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