Nelson helicopter pilot meets boy behind stunning fire painting

An 11-year-old boy now has a special bond with one of the helicopter pilots who fought the Nelson fires.

He painted a picture of the helicopter at the height of the drama. The painting's gone viral and provided the young artist with more work.

Pilot Alan Beck courageously and successfully fought the Tasman fires last week - an image immortalised in a painting by Nelson boy Leon Fenemor.

"When I saw it, I thought, 'wow, is that a photo?!'" Mr Beck says.

Leon did the painting because he was in awe of the great work being done by firefighters in his back yard.

"I don't normally draw the aircrafts, so yeah, this was like the first time painting it," he says.

To say Mr Beck was impressed is an understatement. He loved it so much he came to visit Leon, and the pair chatted about the masterpiece.

"The wind is all going the right way, the dimension of the helicopter and the bucket is pretty damn accurate," Mr Beck says.

He liked it so much he wanted to buy it from Leon. But Leon said no - the painting is going to stay in his room.

He did promise him a print copy which Mr Beck is going to blow up into a two-metre size and put in the hangar.

The accuracy of the painting has been praised.
The accuracy of the painting has been praised. Photo credit: Nelson Snippets / Facebook

But Mr Beck also had another wish. When he was flying 30 years ago, he hit a wire, crashed and broke his back.

He now runs an internationally renowned programme called 'Down to the Wire' which educates pilots on power lines that are hard to see.

So, he asked Leon to help by painting a broken helicopter that's hit a wire and that will go internationally around the world. And to that, Leon said yes.

"If I can do a full one, I should be able to do a crashed one," he says.


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