Remembering a Colleague
I had the pleasure of meeting Ray Bentley, a pilot-biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, last summer during a visit to EPA’s Western Ecology Division in Corvallis, Oregon, when he took me, photographer Eric Vance, and scientists Steven Klein and Scott Leibowitz on two flights to photograph and document ongoing EPA research from the air (I blogged about one of the flights for the August, 26 “Science Wednesday”)
Thanks to the skill, professionalism, and patience of our pilot, we landed with a portfolio of several hundred stunning aerial photographs to support science and outreach efforts, a far better understanding of EPA ecosystem services research, and a deeper appreciation for the spirit of collaboration between EPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Thanks to Ray’s quick smile and generous spirit, the trip was both fruitful and fun.
Last week, I learned the tragic news that Ray, along with his passenger biologist David Pitkin, died on January 17 when their plane went down in a wooded area west of Philomath, OR. The two were returning from a day spent flying over estuaries along the Oregon coast, counting ducks, geese, and swans for an annual mid-winter waterfowl survey.
Even though I only spent the better part of an afternoon with Ray, he made a big impression. His love of flying and wildlife were evident. As a wildlife aficionado and former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee myself, I loved hearing his tales of survey flights over wilderness areas and National Wildlife Refuges from Chesapeake Bay to Alaska. He even extended our first flight a few minutes to see if he could find a grey whale to show us off the coast of Newport. (No such luck.)
One of the best parts of my job is getting to work with people—scientists, photographers, and pilot-biologists included—who clearly love what they do. Ray’s passion for flying and wildlife conservation were obvious, and infectious. The flights he took us on were the highlight of a great week, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with him.
I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families, and many friends and colleagues of Ray Bentley and David Pitkin.
About the Author: Aaron Ferster is the lead science writer-editor for EPA’s Office of Research and Development.
The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.
EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.
EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.