AFC Pilot Who Died in Crash Honored by Family, Colleagues

LITTLE ROCK, AR — Saturday marks one year since an Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot disappeared during a fire scouting mission. 
Jake Harrell’s remains and plane debris were found 11 days later outside of Glenwood in Montgomery County. 

Harrell left behind a wife and three-year-old son. They we’re on hand Friday when Harrell was honored for his service. 

“Today we don’t honor a hero,” said pastor Rod Loy with the First Assembly of God in North Little Rock.  “Instead, we honor a selfless servant to died in service to his state.”

It was January 31, 2014 when Harrell’s plane went missing. 

“This was the largest search ever conducted in the state of Arkansas,” said Billy Black, an AFC state investigator. 

Hundreds of lawmen from a slew of agencies joined in the search — battling icy and cold conditions.

“You couldn’t look up and see the tops of trees many of those days,” said AFC Public Information Coordinator Adrianne Barnes. 

Harrell’s downed plane was finally found February 11th.  Preliminary results of an NTSB investigation found Harrell ran into low- lying clouds and crashed into a ridgeline. 

“Jake was always the guy that would do the jobs that nobody else wanted to do,” Loy said.   

Not only did he fly for AFC, Harrell also worked for the North Little Rock Police Department and was a member of the Arkansas Air National Guard. 

Friday, a memorial honoring fallen firefighters was unveiled with Harrell’s name newly added. 

His wife was presented flowers and a flag from police.

Jake Harrell was honored as someone who gave even if recognition was never something he sought. 

“A ceremony like this would have been way out of personality for him,” Loy said.  “He was a servant.” 

Since Harrell’s crash, AFC planes have been equipped with GPS equipment to better track their flights. 

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