Benny. Andres. Oz. Dennis. Jim. I miss you all, and the other pilots too. I didn't know you long or very well. I was only one in a long line of helicopter managers you worked with, someone to talk to during a reconnaissance flight, to share a story about your wife and kids, just a few moments in a life spent moving from fire to fire.
I didn't think it would end like this for you. I felt safe with you, even as you held my life in your hands. I hope you weren't too afraid when you heard the unexpected sound, felt the pull of gravity. My memories of you transcend the pictures of twisted metal, of flash fires, of the bright scar your broken aircraft made against a summer afternoon.
When I think of each of you, I see you in that last best moment, in that translation between the earth letting go and the sky beginning, when everything is still out in front of you, within reach, still possible.