A federal contract helicopter crew member assigned to rescues and fires in and near Yosemite National Park has earned a national aviation safety award, public affairs staff in the park announced Thursday.

Andrew “Boots” Davenport has worked several years in and near Yosemite, often as a spotter during cliff rescues and training sessions on Yosemite contract Helicopter 551.

During the 2017 fire season, Davenport responded to multiple interagency incidents, including the Detwiler Fire, South Fork Fire, Empire Fire, and several technical search-and-rescue missions, Yosemite public affairs staff said. He is dedicated to providing expertise and supervision for seven-day staff coverage of the contract helicopter in Yosemite National Park.

Davenport is the 2018 winner of the National Park Service Wright Brothers National Aviation Safety Award.

The award is for specialists who exemplify excellence in the field of aviation safety. Davenport was nominated by his peers for his impeccable commitment to his job, which ensures the safety of his co-workers, local community, park visitors and national firefighting community, Yosemite public affairs staff said.

“We are proud to honor and recognize Boots for his professionalism, leadership, and commitment to safety in the Yosemite Fire and Aviation Program,” Kevin Killian, the chief ranger in Yosemite National Park, said in prepared remarks. “The NPS Wright Brothers National Aviation Award recognizes outstanding individuals in the field of aviation, and Boots Davenport embodies all of the qualities that this award recognizes both in the air and on the ground.”

Unique, physical settings in Yosemite National Park, including glaciated canyons with vertical granite walls and waterfalls hundreds to thousands of vertical feet tall, coupled with the evolution of big-wall rock climbing and advances in helicopter aviation, have prompted search-and-rescue innovations for more than a century in Yosemite.

The NPS Wright Brothers National Aviation Safety Award is open to any individual or organization in the aviation community who shows exemplary qualities in the area of aviation safety, according to Yosemite public affairs staff.

The award recognizes an individual or organization who proactively promotes an open-minded attitude in the prevention of aviation mishaps and accidents, works diligently to correct and improve aviation safety, and effectively communicates the actions and results to others.

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.

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