Colleagues are remembering Stewart M. Dietrick for his quiet demeanor, astute professionalism and an unending willingness to share his knowledge and to help those around him.

Dietrick, 60, of Prosper, Texas, was one of two pilots killed last month in a Mercy Flight helicopter crash in Elba.

Services for Dietrick are set for Friday in Texas. A celebration of life service is scheduled for Friday morning at Ted Dickey West Funeral Home in Dallas, followed by a committal service at Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas.

Dietrick was a respected pilot who served in the U.S. Coast Guard, including posts at air stations in New Orleans, La., and Mobile, Ala., and who was part of a select team that developed new interdiction tactics for the service. He also worked for an air ambulance and the Federal Aviation Administration before joining Bell Helicopter.

At Bell, Dietrick “believed he was making a difference in the industry,” B.J. Lewis, who identified as a colleague of Dietrick’s, wrote in a post to the funeral home’s website.

“There are people out there now who owe their lives and profession to Stu,” Lewis wrote.

Dietrick possessed a calm, warming demeanor and was well respected by the pilot team at the Bell Training Academy where he provided a wealth of experience and knowledge, wrote Joe Decapite, who also identified as a colleague, in a post to the funeral home’s website.

“No matter what is going on, Stu’s quiet demeanor, astute professionalism, and unending willingness to help greatly enhances the lives of everyone around him,” added Craig Huffnagie, another colleague.

Those posting on the website remembered Dietrick’s hardy grin and humility.

Eric Cabana, a friend who worked with Dietrich at Bell Training Academy, wrote that “no matter what question or situation I posed to him, his answer was always ‘No problem man, that’s a piece of pie!’ and flash a big grin.”

Dietrick coached youth basketball and enjoyed fishing, according to posts, and also had master carpenter skills.

Thomas Gaffney shared how Dietrick renovated part of an old operations center at the Savannah Air Station into a wardroom for pilots.

“Stu did all the construction himself and had skills I would describe as professional carpentry level,” Gaffney wrote “We couldn’t have gotten a better wardroom if we had gone out and hired a professional contractor. It really was a thing of beauty. The amount of time Stu spent working on the project during the evenings and on weekends speaks well to his character. He put in more hours than I can even count just to make the wardroom a nice place for his fellow pilots.”

Dietrick was added to the Coast Guard Aviation Association’s Wall of Honor for his work as a member of Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron Ten, or HITRON-10, which contributed to the technical and tactical development of Coast Guard aviation’s airborne use of force mission.

The unit was created because Coast Guard ships could not match the speed of “go-fast” boats, which were typically fiberglass boats with a deep “V” racing hull capable of traveling at more than twice the speed of Coast Guard cutters. Stopping such boats would require a drastic change in Coast Guard capabilities, according to a history of Coast Guard aviation by the Coast Guard Aviation Association.

Dietrick, in an interview for the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command documentary on the HITRON history, said being selected for the program was “an excellent opportunity for me ... I enjoyed every part of it.”

“It was an honor to be selected,” he said in the video. “Folks had some great faith in my abilities.”

From September 1998 through March 2000, Dietrich was part of a team of 14 selected Coast Guard aviators — nine pilots and five flight mechanics — tasked with developing and testing new equipment, tactics and procedures to bring about a non-lethal use of force concept against go-fast boats. During the 18-month period, the team used all-weather MH-90 helicopters that integrated lethal and non-lethal technology, along with state-of-the-art sensors, night vision devices, and communications equipment to develop what the Coast Guard called “highly aggressive and effective offensive and defensive tactics never before attempted by rotary wing aircraft.”

The concept was tested in day and night conditions in a series of six operational deployments as part of Operation New Frontier. Before Operation New Frontier, according to the Coast Guard’s own statistics, the Coast Guard had about a 10 percent chance of stopping a “go-fast.” During the evaluation operations, the Coast Guard intercepted six out of six pursuits. Those missions saw the apprehension of 20 smugglers and more than 14,000 pounds of marijuana and cocaine, according to the Coast Guard.

In selecting HITRON-10 for the Wall of Honor, the Coast Guard said the team has “had one of the most lasting impacts on Coast Guard aviation in its history, and created a unit that would fundamentally change both Coast Guard aviation and our national drug interdiction strategy for decades to come.”

Dietrick retired as a lieutenant commander from the Coast Guard on Feb. 1, 2002

Colleagues recalled Dietrick as a mentor and inspiration in posts on the funeral home website.

“He was the kind of professional aviator and man I have always sought to be associated with, to emulate, and now... to honor,” wrote Joe Beebe, who noted that he worked with Dietrick for seven years at the Bell Training Academy. “I am both fortunate and deeply grateful to have shared a workplace with him these last few years and I hope to carry his legacy with me until my last flight and my last breath.”

Dietrick and Mercy Flight pilot James E. Sauer, 60, of Churchville, were killed in the April 26 crash of a Bell 429 Mercy Flight helicopter in Elba. They were the helicopter’s only occupants.

An investigation into the crash is continuing.

“That preliminary report for Elba has not been released yet. I know I saw it in the queue to be released ... I think we expect that next week,” NTSB Spokesperson Peter Knudson said. “The final report ... these fatal accident investigations generally take 12 to 24 months to complete.”

Funeral services for Sauer took place May 2 at Open Door Baptist Church in Churchville.

Dietrick is survived by a wife, Patty, and son, Dillon, in Texas.

Mercy Flight resumed flight operations on May 7 following a voluntary pause in its air ambulance operations that had been in effect since the crash.

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