Hundreds remembered a former Pennsylvania State Police pilot Saturday afternoon, just days after he was killed in a helicopter crash near his own backyard in Bucks County.
Doug Brigham, a 24 year State Police veteran, died Wednesday morning, just as he took off from his backyard helipad in Tinicum Township. Investigators are still trying to figure out exactly what brought the chopper down just moments after takeoff.
"He was an outstanding pilot," said retired state trooper Brian Naylor. "I flew with him many, many times."
A State Police helicopter performed a flyover after the service in Brigham's hometown of West Chester.
"It's really a tragedy," said former Philadelphia Police pilot Dave Vogt.
Vogt said Brigham was an experienced and extremely cautious pilot.
"There are so many things that can go wrong with a helicopter, it's hard to know what or why," he said. "We're just trying to see what the NTSB and FAA are going to come up with."
Brigham worked for a private aviation company after retiring from the force.
Longtime friends and troopers remembered Brigham as a larger-than-life character who always put others first.
"He would bring the helicopter out for Camp Cadet up in Limerick," said Sue Wilfong, who worked with Brigham at the State Police. "I've been up in the helicopter with him, took photographs with him."
Naylor said his friend always put "service before self."
"At Doug's retirement party, instead of having a gift presented to him, he asked people to donate to the Garrett Ross fund," said Naylor. "And that one night alone he raised thousands of dollars at his retirement party for somebody else."
Brigham was also a volunteer fiefighter, and Tinicum Township's emergency services coordinator. He was also former president Herbert Hoover's great-grandson.