Deceased pilot had strong ties to Roaring Fork Valley community
January 28, 2014
Longtime local helicopter pilot Doug Sheffer was identified Monday as one of three people killed in a helicopter crash near Silt.
Sheffer owned Rifle-based DBS Helicopters, one of three companies that provides support for Mountain Rescue Aspen missions. "He's been an invaluable part of our team," MRA President Jeff Edelson said. "When it comes to rescues, there's many rescues that we certainly would not have been able to perform without his efforts. He'll be a big loss to us. … We consider him a team member, so the team is very saddened by the loss.
"Our thoughts are with his family and the DBS team," he said
The helicopter, which crashed at 11:18 a.m. Monday, was part of a fleet monitoring power lines within the Holy Cross Energy service area.
Sheffer — who is survived by his wife, Barbara, and daughter, Brooke — lived in Basalt. The Westport, Conn., native was a founding member of the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork, where he has been involved for 22 years.
"He's a very, very dear friend of the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork, and he has been an integral part of our community since the inception of our school," said faculty administrator Carla Comey, who learned of the crash through Sheffer's family members. "And we love him very much and are grateful for his many contributions."
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She said it wouldn't do Sheffer justice to try and explain all that he did for the school, but she noted his involvement with the school's theater department, as well as its board and administrative council.
"He was very instrumental in helping us be the best school we could be," she said.
Matt Hobbs, owner of Vital Films, met Sheffer in 2010. The two have collaborated on various projects at the Waldorf School and in filmmaking.
"Doug was not only a friend and incredible pilot, he was one of the most caring people you would have the privilege to be around," Hobbs said, adding that he looked up to Sheffer as a career mentor.
"Flying was only half of it, we would have great conversations in the air and on the ground about anything going on in life. He truly cared about what we were doing and just wanted to help us grow personally and professionally."
On Facebook, Sheffer is identified as "our man in the air" for the Grand Traverse, a 40-mile backcountry ski race between Crested Butte and Aspen. He "was instrumental in building some of the huts along the route. We pass on our sincerest condolences to his family … fly high Doug! Heavy hearts," a post on the Grand Traverse's page reads.
The power-line survey was scheduled to take place from Monday through Wednesday, using infrared photography to identify potential trouble spots on power lines and at substation facilities. If a problem was encountered, the helicopter would circle back and hover for a few minutes to record the area with video, still shots and a GPS coordinate. It will then proceed along the line.