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Mark Conte ( Tanker Pilot )

posted: Dec 31, 2004

Mark Stewart Conte died Dec. 7, 2004, in a commercial aviation accident in Flagstaff, Ariz. He was 32.

He graduated from Davis High School (CA) in 1991 and received a diploma from Sacramento City College in 1995 in Airframe and Power Plant Maintenance.

He worked in Yolo and Solano counties in the agricultural applications industry. He was employed by Grower's Air Service of Woodland as a loader, and later as an aircraft mechanic. After receiving his commercial aviation license, he worked for William D. Joslin of Dixon as an aircraft mechanic and agricultural pilot.

In 1999, Mark was employed by San Joaquin Helicopters, and then DynCorp, California Department of Forestry support divisions, where he was contracted as a mechanic to service air tanker and spotter aircraft in the CDF Air Tanker Program at McClellan Field. During the fire season, he worked as a Base Mechanic at the Redding Interagency Air Attack Base.

He continued his flight certification program, obtaining certifications for multi-engine aircraft, and night instrumentation flight. In 2002, he joined ARDCO Inc. of Tucson, Ariz., as a co-pilot flying DC-4 Air Tankers and operating on fires in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

When the federal contracts for commercial air tankers were terminated this spring, he began flying for Aero Charter Inc., carrying bank certificates and blood supplies between cities in Arizona and New Mexico. On the night of Dec. 7, he died when his aircraft, a Cessna twin-engine 310, was heard to develop engine problems and crashed shortly after take off.