The Drop – A Lot to be Grateful For

As 2021 draws to a close, I have been reflecting a great deal on what a whirlwind 2021 has been, both personally and professionally. As far as the magazine is concerned, growth has not stopped. We have continued to expand from 46 pages at the beginning of the year to 84 pages by the September issue. Also, changing the print format from saddle-stitched to the perfect-bound version you saw arriving on your doorsteps later in the year.

Adding pages was no easy task, but as the readers, you continued to ask for more content, which we delivered. That content has allowed me to travel around the country and even overseas in the latter part of the year to represent AerialFire Magazine as the only aerial firefighting publication to attend the successful AFF show in Tallinn, Estonia, in October. See the October 2021 issue for coverage on that fantastic event.

One of the things I am thankful for on a professional level as I look back on this year is how well the magazine has been received worldwide. I receive some kudos or thank-you for what we provide by putting the magazine out almost daily. These comments come from every aspect of the industry, from the casual pilot reader to municipal, state, and federal agencies, all the way up to manufacturers of aircraft or equipment for the industry.

I have to admit when the pandemic struck, we were only a couple of issues into the new magazine. As I saw other businesses struggling, it gave me pause to wonder if we had made the right choice, but we kept doing what we were doing and soldiering on to produce what I hoped was worthwhile and well-received content for the industry.

While traveling can be difficult at times, I try very hard to be home when significant events happen. In the almost decade I have been in this business, I have not missed a birthday, graduation, or family holiday. There are certain things I won’t compromise on when it relates to family time. Thus far, I have been very fortunate to plan around all of those events within the constraints of fire seasons around the world, although the global pandemic has made that slightly easier over the last few years.

On a personal note, as we hopefully get to put this pandemic in the rearview mirror soon, I look forward to watching my kids thrive as their lives return to normal more than my own. Watching them come out of school ripping their masks off like surgeons coming out of surgery, glad to breathe fresh air for the first time in 8 hours, was wearing on me. Thankfully, towards the end of this year, this order was rescinded, hoping that this was the last time and they could return to normal along with the rest of us.

I look forward to further indulging their aviation passion in 2022 and hopefully bringing another helicopter into career day as we did in the years before the pandemic hit. This will be my daughter’s last year in elementary school, and schools focus less on showing kids STEM-based careers in middle and high school, so I have to strike while the iron is hot.

While next year will likely involve a lot more travel as borders begin to open again, the addition of new shows that we will be going to like the European Rotors show, the second AFF show added for Europe in 2022 in France and a several others, I look forward to meeting more people involved in the industry throughout the year.

In the new year for all of our readers, I hope for continued success, growth, and a safe 2022. Even as we still mourn the losses of the 2021 season, I hope that we can continue to drive down the number of pilots lost in accidents throughout the fire season. I hope for continued safety advancements that make pilots’ workloads less and their flying safer, no matter what they fly—cheers to a safe and prosperous 2022 fire season

Fly safe,


Ryan Mason
Ryan Mason
Ryan is an accomplished writer and aerial photographer that has worked in the aviation industry for over a decade before co-founding AerialFire Magazine. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Ryan is a former police officer that focuses his writing and photography efforts on para-public operations and agricultural aviation.

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