The pilot of a plane that crashed while fighting bushfires in New South Wales, Australia has been confirmed dead.
David Black, 43, a husband and father from Trangie in central NSW, was waterbombing when his plane crashed in rugged bushland on Thursday morning.
Shoalhaven local area commander Superintendent Joe Cassar said an ambulance officer had been winched into the remote area west of Ulladulla where the crash occurred and confirmed Black was dead.
Emergency staff have been unable to recover his body as fires are still burning in the area, which is described as exceptionally rough terrain.
''As soon as conditions are in our favour, we will retrieve the pilot,'' Cassar said.
He said it was a tragic day for Black's family and the Rural Fire Service.
''Thoughts would have to go out to his family who have to deal with the grief of losing a husband and father,'' he said.
Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, who lost his own father in a bushfire, paid tribute to the pilot.
''It's a tragedy for the fire fighting community but first and foremost it's a tragedy for this man's family,'' he said.
''He's a husband with young children and we're all acutely aware that there's a family suffering today because their dad didn't come home.''
The pilot's co-workers are continuing to fight the fire in the area 40 kilometres west of Ulladulla.
The Acting Chief of the Defence Force, Air Marshall Mark Binskin, said the tragedy illustrated the risky nature of fighting fires.
''As a pilot, I appreciate the dangers of operations like this and any accident like this really does hit home,'' he said.
An officer from the Air Transport Safety Bureau has also been sent to the area to investigate the crash site once it is safe to do so.
It's understood Black's wife, Julie, is on her way to the Shoalhaven area.
- Sydney Morning Herald