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Fire Fighter crash

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Fire Fighter crash

Old 18th Jun 2002, 19:27
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First of all it is my understanding that all the C130 and P3 tankers are 'bailed' aircraft. In other words they are sold to the states or tanker companies for public use only for a low fee from the military.

This not the first accident nor will it be the last. In the past it was the C119 tankers.

We need to remember those who do the jobs that are not glamorous or get a lot of public reccognition, but keep all of us healthy, protected and safe.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 20:09
  #22 (permalink)  

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411a: Crass as ever


would you like the pilot of the Egyptair that went down in the Atlantic to be thought of as representative of professional pilots?

USFS personnel, regardless of their management, are risking their collective necks to put these blazes out. They are as entitled to close ranks, just as frequently as people on this board fulminate against press speculation of pilot error.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 22:29
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...or starting them. Hello....Denver.


Hello, are you listening?

When was the last time you noticed the wings separate from a DC-7 or a P2V?....or even a C-54?
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 22:35
  #24 (permalink)  

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Thoughts are with the friends and families of the crew so tragicaly killed in the course of their duties. Theirs was a valuable public service that involved risk. Condolances.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 23:00
  #25 (permalink)  
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Specifically, what caused the fire these guys were tackling?

Well, no matter what the answer to that, in my book they are heroes and history should record them as such. I'm not in any way religious, just in awe of those who risk their own lives to preserve their environment and the lives of other inhabitants of our earth.

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Old 18th Jun 2002, 23:44
  #26 (permalink)  

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Chuck Ellsworth, lest I created any doubt in my first post, I was not implying any operational overstress by the crew. I was referring to the known problem of centre section failure which, in an undetected case could even occur at 1g.

Those C130 centre boxes get one heck of a work-out on repetitive fire bombing ops.

Wing separation, however was "almost" simultaneous with a possible lead by the starboard wing.
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 00:36
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A question.
Does anyone know if the PB4Y used by Hawkins and Powers is still being flown? I read that this Privateer conversion was still operating as recently as 1994. Its a hard life for any aircraft at low altitude in summer, but Im amazed at how long some of these aircraft put up with it.
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 01:05
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It truly felt like a dagger through the heart to watch the footage.

I salute the crew.
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 01:14
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I believe that I noticed this aeroplane on a very recent news program and believe that, yes, it is still being operated. Last noticed personally at WJF about four years ago.

There can't be many Privateer's around.

Chuck Ellsworth--

Could not agree more with your comments.
Noticed during the Scottsdale Arizona fire in 1997 one particular P3 was directed by the fire boss to drop some retardant on a hill that was not on fire. When he protested, the fire boss replied..."it doesn't matter what you think, the mayor wants to see some red on that hill, period." This was clearly heard by a group of us watching and listening on the VHF radio.

I cannot think offhand of more dangerous and appreciated work that these pilots do...hats off to them. It is a shame that they do not get the backing from the Forest Service that they deserve.

Last edited by 411A; 19th Jun 2002 at 01:30.
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 04:42
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All five P4Ys are active this year.
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 04:42
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Good gosh: Let's hope that their family members were notified quickly and were kept away from the tv for days. What a nightmare to watch. My condolences. It must have done wonders for news show ratings.

Those C-130 A models had three-bladed props for faster speed at lower altitudes. Believe that B models had outboard external fuel tanks, versus between engines on E/H models. All of them must have gone through lots of stress at 300 knots or more while looking for Strellas and other popular SAM missiles racing towards or from the drop zones (Khe Sanh, An Loc...)(and how about "assault landings"!? Have y'all seen these up close, to watch the wings flex down and up?) especially Southeast Asia.

I read or heard that some crews even pulled all four throttles below the flight idle stops just BEFORE they smashed onto the zone (in the air), in order to win landing competitions.

How good was the maintenance? I thought there was a bit of an orange stripe, which resembled the Coast Guard's markings.

Has anyone ruled out the possibility of a small area of sharp moderate or severe turbulence due to the winds or fires underneath?

Does anyone know if the flight pay per hour or month is pretty good, considering the risks? How about now? Typos, typos. (Roger, go mechanical on #2...)

Last edited by Ignition Override; 19th Jun 2002 at 04:52.
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 06:46
  #32 (permalink)  
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Ig Over: Point well made. The area near Reno has considerable potential for significant turbulence. I have flown those parts in various seasons - and have never missed a whumping jolt or ten in the process.

Reno is a desert town (about 4500msl) immediately in the lee of a major mountain massif that rises some 3000-5000 feet agl just to the west (where the fire evidently was located). The crest of the Sierra Nevada is some 20 miles further west at more than 11000msl. And 50 miles further west is the Sacramento delta at sea level, washed by laminar winds uninterrupted from 6000 miles of Pacific. So you have onshore, orographic and mountain and desert and valley winds, thermals and eddies and cline this and cline that, plus whatever the fires added.

It's not too hard to imagine a circumstance where the fully loaded aircraft, already under g-stress from manoeuvering, encountered a localized transient gust load that put them across the breaking limit of the wing.

Unspeakably sad to see it thus - one hopes something enduring may be learned as a result.
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 07:37
  #33 (permalink)  
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Unhappy Condolences to the families and colleagues of these individuals so tragically lost.

My heart goes out to the families of the crew-members lost in this horrifying accident.

Been gone for a couple of weeks fire-fighting myself, indeed having to park and watch the C-130's attacking the fire at very close quarters! Television coverage of fire-fighting never shows the reality of the activity, it's a bit like watching air-racing or an airshow on TV, you never get the true perspective of speed and position to the ground and consequently the true relationship between a large aircraft travelling rapidly, very close to the ground. Last week I was watching a C-130 starting a drop following a ridge line from the summit of a mountain. As he started his run, nose way down - high bank angle, the shadow of the aircraft converged with the aircraft at the summit and there could not have been more than 50 feet clearance between the two. Drop completed and off to town for more.

Many of the comments above accurately reflect the past problems with specific models in this application. Overall though, firefighting has a pretty good safety record, especially considering the specific flight regimes required for retardent application.

The big piston fleet is alive and well. We were working with KC-97's, PB4Y's and DC-7's, in addition to the 130's. There was a steady turn-over at the tanker base, as the machines stayed pretty busy. And this is all just South of the Arctic Circle, so constant daylight means constant firefighting!

Be back there again next week! Fly safe.

Watch for the C-130's and operators in the news later this year, as the process of surplusing them was under a major investigation by the Feds!
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 09:53
  #34 (permalink)  
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Firefighting Plane Had Wing Repairs
Wed Jun 19, 5:00 AM ET

By TOM GARDNER, Associated Press Writer

An air tanker that nose-dived in Northern California killing all
three crew members was repaired four years ago for cracks in one wing, a representative of the plane's owner said Tuesday

The downed C-130A Hercules, operated under contract with the U.S. Forest Service, had just completed a pass over the blaze Monday when its wings snapped off and the fuselage plunged in
Walker, Calif.

George Petterson, the lead Nationa Transportation Safety Board investigator at the crash scene, said he was not aware of the earlier wing problem but that it would be examined.

"I have no idea if that's related to what we've got," he said.

The nation's C-130A tankers, workhorse of the firefighting fleet, were grounded Tuesday in the midst of what could become one of the worst fire seasons in history.

The C-130A that crashed Monday was fighting a 15,000-acre
annon fire north of Yosemite National Park. Investigators
ere trying to determine if a practice campfire set by Marine
trainees started the blaze Saturday.

The plane's operator, Hawkins & Powers Aviation Inc., notified
the Federal Aviation Administration ( news - web sites) in April
1998 that an inspection discovered two 1-inch cracks in the
surface or "skin" of one of Lockheed-built plane's wings,
according to an FAA document obtained by The Associated Press.

In the Service Difficulty Report, Hawkins & Powers described the cracks as near a rivet hole on the bottom of a wing. The damage was repaired and no subsequent problems were reported, a company employee said Tuesday night.

"All I can tell you is there were some wing repairs done to the aircraft. I don't know the extent of that," said Diane Nuttall, an administrative assistant at Hawkins & Powers in Greybull, Wyo. She did not know when the repair work was done.

Records show the 46-year-old aircraft passed its last major inspection in October. "Near-simultaneous wing failure I've never seen it," Petterson said.

FAA representatives did not immediately return calls Tuesday night.

The C-130A tankers are only a fraction of the National Interagency Fire Center's fleet of 43 contract planes. Nancy Lull, a spokeswoman for the fire center in Boise, Idaho, said the five planes will be grounded for at least two days while their safety is evaluated.

"They will be shut down until a preliminary investigation can determine what happened to this particular aircraft is unique or that there is some sort of structural problem with all C-130s," said Ed Waldapfel, a Forest Service information officer at the fire center in Boise, Idaho.

Authorities identified the crash victims as pilot Steven Wass, 42, of Gardnerville, Nev.; co-pilot Craig Labare, 36, of Loomis, Calif.; and crew member Michael Davis, 59, of Bakersfield, Calif.

Hawkins & Powers' only previous accident listed in an NTSB database is a 1999 hard landing of a helicopter during coyote research in Utah. The company owns six C-130s and 22 other aircraft.

C-130s, made in the 1950s and '60s, are among the stalwarts of the world's air cargo fleet and were the primary transport used in Vietnam. They are also among the most important weapons in the government's aerial firefighting arsenal because they can hold 3,000 gallons of retardant.

411A, the Los Alamos fire you mentioned was started by the National Park Service, not the Forest Service. It was deliberately lit as part of a plan of prescribed burns to reduce fire loads. Unfortunately, the Park Service chose to light it when conditions were unfavorable meteorologically, and the vegetation was too dry. The Federal Government (through US taxpayers) is compensating all the property owners for their losses.
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 16:01
  #35 (permalink)  
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My condolences to the crew.

Based on my experience:

Herk wings on "hard working" aircraft must be removed and rebuilt with new spar caps every 5,000 hr. This is an expensive item but necessary. An Alaska Herk experienced wing separation in cruise in the 70's.
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 16:55
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Thanks for the correction, yes do now remember that it was the National Park Service, not the Forest Service.

Speaking of the Forest Service, believe it was announced on the radio this morning that the Forest Service employee, who claimed that (for the Denver fire now burning)...
first, she smelled smoke and raised the alert,
then when it was pointed out that she was UP-wind at the time later admitted to burning a "love letter"...now admits that she started the fire deliberately...so she could report same and be classified as a "hero".

Hmmm, think the "hero" might just get 20 years in the Federal slammer.

In addition, the fire where the C-130A experienced wing separation, is now under investigation as allegedly being set by US Marines...during maneuvers.
If true, perhaps the Marines had better stay...on the beach where they belong..altho this is a problem as well, as Marines have started several fires at Camp Pendleton in California in the past.
Not to mention crashing MV-22 craft at civilian airports, at night, no lights, and no notams...but this is a whole 'nother problem.

Last edited by 411A; 19th Jun 2002 at 17:05.
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 17:53
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You never fail to amaze me 411A

I will make sure to tell my brother Marines to get out of Afghanistan as its not on the beach. I will make sure they fly 46's from the 1960's for another decade or two as you don't like its replacement. To alleviate your ignorance, the Marines have a mountain warfare training center in the area. A number of units have trained there prior to going to Afghanistan. Anything else they are doing bothering you?
You got a bit of a reprieve from Danny, don't take it too far.
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 20:35
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Actually, West Coast, the so called "reprieve" from management was for those that could NOT keep the diatribe civil, as I always do.
And, if the Marines want to "maneuver" in the hills, there is a very closeby place to do same...'tis called Twentynine Palms. Not much to burn there however. The terrain there is very similar to Afghanistan, especially in the Chocolate or Old Women mountains just slightly further east. It is high time the the Armed Forces stay in their designated areas, and not start fires that civvy guys have to put out. At least the National Guard has brought in later model C-130's to help with the effort, and my hats off to them.
They will be urgently needed in the fire season ahead. I have watched P3's (and I have flown L188's) maneuver and drop retardant within one half mile from my house in Arizona, and they sure are accurate. Superb performance

Last edited by 411A; 19th Jun 2002 at 21:38.
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Old 20th Jun 2002, 02:33
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411A and gang: pardon another (long) wandering from the main topic of the graphic tragedy. I guess that it simple for any of us to point out anyone's' mistakes, especially when a forest fire results. On the subject of Marines, I've never been involved with any Army or Marine activities. As for those dedicated pros being sent into operations which do not concern beach or helo assaults etc, which seem to be their main training focus (just ask that "courageous" reporter on CNN military operations, Ashleigh Banfield), some of 411A's comments reminded me of some remarks in (ret) Army Colonel David Hackworth's major book "About Face".

This book is a blistering critique of how the Vietnam War was "micro-managed"...with no true understanding among many upper level military or civilian leaders, of the various elements involved, as many have described it, from Washington DC (with too many junior or mid-level folks afraid to tell them that they were wrong: no promotion if not in line with team decisions). The colonel was seriously wounded in Korean infantry combat, and was up close in some battles in Vietnam (versus taking part on a "country club" base or only in the the Pentagon etc with no enemy contact...to use his language). He made many enemies over here by his blunt critiques.

My point is that the Marines seem to be required to go wherever politicians need them to go, but I could be mistaken. It would surprise me if most Marines, from the Lt Cols down the ranks to the junior enlisted were allowed to decide where to fight. The Pentagon has always semed to me to be the main "puzzle palace". Incidentally, my father-in-law (ret. Col) once had a tour there in the Army's Quartermaster 'Branch', during his long career.

Would Pprune Towers allow me to quote a little from David Hackworth's quite interesting 834 page (+) book, "About Face", on page 611? Well, here goes: "But having juggled the figures, Westy (Gen. Westmoreland) must have come to believe them, and when he returned to Vietnam he enthusastically embraced the siege on Khe Sanh as Dien Bien Phu (in reverse) of the war...from which would spring his ever-longed-for set-piece battle that would turn the tide of the war decisively in the Americans' favor. It was only Mao who said 'there is no such thing as a decisive battle in guerilla warfare' ...the Marines sat on the receiving end of the same horrific incoming we hill people had endured in Korea in 1952-53. ...But as Ward Just had titled his book to what end was the whole damn thing?"

I don't pretend to know anything about combat, but as in other books on the war, i.e. (another excellent one) by Philip Caputo, "A Rumour of War"(?), a Marine who patroled the forests in the highlands, he said pretty much the same things about Khe Sanh, based on my rusty general impression (nothing personal, Rusty ['sushi' IOE]). Many have said that the Marines' presence in such situations is a waste of lives, when not necessary. When were the Marines' missions broadened to include runnung a firebase etc like the Army? What 'kind' of commanders make such decisions??

I can't back up a question or skepticism on a complex topic with two sound-bytes. Maybe this is another factor as to why my FMC/MCP training was a challenge (and no desk-top mouse training, or anything, available for preparation). Typos, typos.

Last edited by Ignition Override; 20th Jun 2002 at 07:15.
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Old 20th Jun 2002, 05:11
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Back to the thread. Anyone know if crews of these C-130 firefighters are ex-mil? Also, what function does the 'crew member' play (ie the 3rd person)?

God bless these guys...
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