Richard B. “Dick” Wildman Interview, August 6, 1981


Richard B. Wildman


Charlie Bragdon



Download Audio Interview (174.1 MB)

Download Transcript of Dick Wildman interview (418 KB)


Fire Management Officer Richard “Dick” Waldman describes why he entered the smokejumping program in Region 6. He talks about the various jumpers he trained and worked with including his former supervisor Francis Lufkin. Waldman shares stories about specific jumps including his favorite where the pilot dropped them in a meadow, and also one of the scariest when he and a partner were dropped in the wrong area of the Alaska wilderness and waited seven days for rescue. Waldman discusses the daily responsibilities of smokejumpers when they weren’t fighting fires, and he job as a loft foreman making sure chutes were mended and other tasks were completed. He tells additional stories about his jumper friends and talks about injuries that occurred while on the job including one jumper who landed right in the middle of a fire severely burning his feet. He reminisces about a jump he was on to rescue plane crash survivors. Waldman talks about his training and management techniques, which included assessing the skills of each jumper and assigning them tasks based on their strengths. He concludes the interview by stating his opinions about letting women enter the jumper program, the centralization of Region 6 jump bases, and the future of smokejumping with the evolution of fire-finding technology.


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Document Type

Oral History


Smokejumpers, United States; Women smokejumpers; Gender disparity, smokejumpers; Smokejumpers, physical requirements; Smokejumper history; Smokejumping; Forest fires; Smokejumper standards; Redmond, Oregon; La Grande, Washington; Alaska; Winthrop, Washington; Centralization, Smokejumper bases; Northern Cascades Smokejumper Base; Training methods; Lufkin, Francis; Lake Chelan; Slide Ridge; Loft foreman; Fire Management Officer [FMO]; U.S. Forest Service

Original Date


Time Period

Twentieth century

Geographic Coverage

Oregon; Alaska; Washington



Original Collection

Nick Sundt Smokejumpers Oral History Project, OH 172, Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, University of Montana-MissoulaNick Sundt

Digital Publisher

University of Montana--Missoula. Mansfield Library


Copyright to this collection is held by the interview participants and by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula. Permission may be required for use. For further information please contact Archives and Special Collections: (406) 243-2053 /

Oral History Number

OH 172-018b, 019, 020

Media Type

Sound; Text

Original Format

3 sound cassettes (60 min. each): analog + 1 transcript (41 pp.: 28 cm.)

Digital Format

audio/mp3; application/pdf

Run Time

02:15:39 minutes

Local Filename

OH_172_018b_019_020.mp3; OH_172_018b_019_020.pdf

Richard B. “Dick” Wildman Interview, August 6, 1981