Family and friends in Wichita Falls gather tonight to remember one of the two men killed Sunday when the air tanker they were flying crashed fighting a wildfire on the Utah-Nevada border.
Both pilots lived in Boise, Idaho, but 40-year-old Ron Chambless was born and raised in Wichita Falls.
The air tanker built in 1962 was dropping retardant when it went down in a rocky canyon about 150 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
Ron Chambless wanted to be a pilot as long as friends and family can remember. He wanted his wings, but one thing stood in the way according to one of his childhood friends David Johnson.
"Every time he would fly he would get sick and we said well I guess you are not going to do that and he said, 'Nope, I'm going to fly,' and his motto was get sick and keep flying," said David.
So Ron kept flying and eventually overcame his flight sickness and got his pilot's license. He found any way he could to get behind the wheel of a plane, and took flying jobs anywhere he could find them, from cloud seeding in India to flying tourists over volcanoes in Hawaii.
His sister, Kirstin Jenkins says he also loved photography which allowed him to document his adventures
"Look at his pictures and you can see the adventures in them, going to get that and chasing that," she said.
Ron found his dream at the end of the rainbow., and friends and family say though he died much too soon, he lived a lifetime in his four decades.
"If ever there was a guy who lived 100 years worth of life in the short time he was Ron," said David.
Ron not only lived a full life, but enriched the lives of others as well.
"Everybody loved him, everybody wanted to be around him, and everybody misses him and everybody can't believe he is gone," said Kirsten.
` The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is honoring Ron and his copilot by putting their flag at half staff. His sister says while they mourn his loss, they also take joy that he was able to make that dream of a little boy in Wichita Falls come true,"he died doing what he loved, that was his dream, and that was what he loved, his passion in life was flying and he died doing that and helping others at the same time, what more can you ask for," Kirsten said.
The Wildland Firefighter Foundation will be flying the remains of Ron's body to Wichita Falls Saturday.
Visitation for Ron will be held at the Hampton and Vaughan Funeral Homes Chapel from 6-8 on Saturday.
His memorial service will be there as well at 1pm on Sunday.
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