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Kelly McCague: Pilot and Park Ranger

Kelly McCague is State Parks only Pilot Ranger. 

California State Park Pilot and Park Ranger Kelly McCague
Up Close and Personal


1. What is your most unique experience working in California State Parks?
When I worked at Jedediah Smith Redwoods, on patrol one late night on Howland Hill Road, I witnessed a mountain lion take a deer down right in front of the vehicle.  I was truly amazed and couldn't believe my eyes.  Not many people get to see survival up close like that.  And don't worry; I was in my vehicle the whole time!

2. What is the biggest challenge that you want the public to understand about your profession?
As the park pilot in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, I face many challenges during the year.  The weather is my biggest challenge. The summers are hot and there is no air conditioning in the plane.  In the spring, gusty winds, turbulence, thermals and canyon flying make it very difficult at times to fly and land the Husky Aviat safely.

3. Who or what inspired you to pursue this career?
I grew up in a family where we took annual camping trips to Yosemite.  Each year I would see the rangers and thought, "what a cool job."  When I was about 8 years old, I had my picture taken with a ranger on a horse.  I look at that picture now and think he had a lot to do with the career choice I made.

4. Is there something in your career that you would do over if given the chance?

I would've liked to have worked at more parks in California before I found my "dream job".

5. Any particular parks that are on your dream list to work at?
Well, I have the best job in California State Parks, right now!!!  Where else could you fly a plane, protect the public and resources for future generations and get paid for it.