An Air France pilot has tragically fallen 1,000 feet to his death from a cliff in Sequoia National Park in California’s southern Sierra Nevada mountains during a layover, the airline and local law enforcement have confirmed.
The body of Tom Gerbier, a Boeing 777 First Officer, was recovered by rescue helicopter from an area of the park which is known as ‘The Notch’ after the Inyo Country Search and Rescue Service launched an appeal to find the avid hiker.
Gerbier reportedly flew out to Los Angeles on Air France flight AF66 from Paris on Monday and had headed straight from the airport to prepare for his hike to the summit of Mount Whitney, which is the highest mountain in the contiguous United States.
The local Sheriffs Department said Gerbier didn’t return from his day hike as expected and then failed to show up for his return flight to France, prompting the cancellation of Air France AF77 on Wednesday night.
As officials launched an urgent appeal to help locate Gerbier, hikers were asked to take photos of the Mount Whitney summit register to see whether the 38-year-old pilot had made it to the top as planned.
After conducting flyovers of the mountain and launching a ground search, rescue workers discovered evidence that someone may have fallen from The Notch. Gerbier’s deceased body was found 1,000 feet below.
Gerbier’s cause of death has not yet been confirmed.
According to industry source A Fly Guy’s Crew Lounge, Air France has confirmed Gerbier’s tragic death in an internal memo sent to devastated colleagues on Friday.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.