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Fire Fighter crash

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Fire Fighter crash

Old 18th Jun 2002, 02:38
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Unhappy Fire Fighter crash

Just saw a quick shot of what looked like a C130 (?) fire fighter in Califonia crash on TV news. The wings separated at low level, quite dramatic and shocking.
All three crew were killed, god bless them and my condolences to their families.

Last edited by Sopwith Pup; 18th Jun 2002 at 02:51.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 03:12
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Pic... http://www.kolotv.com/images/main/ta...big_061702.jpg


WALKER, Calif. (AP) - An air tanker fighting a blaze near Yosemite National Park caught fire Monday and crashed in this Sierra resort town, killing all three crew members and just missing a mechanic's shop, authorities and witnesses said.

A Reno, Nev., television news crew captured the scene on videotape as the wings broke off, the fuselage rolled left and spiraled nose first into the ground.

"It was almost surreal," KOLO-TV reporter Terri Russell said. "You saw it go down and for a second, I thought, 'is that really what I saw?' "'

Medical crews were sent to the mountain hamlet after the plane went down in a ball of flames shortly before 3 p.m., said Laura Williams, spokeswoman for the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center in Minden, Nev.

Williams said she had no information on the crew and it wasn't clear whether anyone on the ground was injured.

Jerry Johnston, operations officer with the Federal Aviation Administration in Hawthorne, Calif., confirmed all three crew members of the C-130 transport plane were killed in the crash "under unknown circumstances after making a drop" of retardant.

"It was destroyed on impact and by fire," he said.

Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board were on the way to the scene, he said.

Other aircraft battling the fire were grounded. High winds had grounded tankers and helicopters Sunday.

Russell, who witnessed the crash, said one of the plane's wings was on fire before the tanker lost altitude and crashed within 150 feet of an auto shop.

"I'm standing here looking at the tail section," shop owner Mike Mandichaka told The Associated Press by telephone. "My shop is right next door. It almost hit it."

The tanker was battling an 8,000-acre blaze that had forced 400 people out of their homes. Walker is 90 miles south of Reno, and about 25 miles north of Yosemite. At least one home has burned.

A deputy coroner on the scene said the bodies would be taken to Bishop, Calif.

KOLO-TV's news crew was interviewing a man watching the skies with his own camcorder near Walker Sporting Goods Mobile Home Park when the plane came into view.

The plane came in low to the ground trailing a red flow of fire retardant above tall green pines. Both wings suddenly snapped off, with flashes of flame as they separated. The fuselage rolled left and spiraled nose first into the ground.

"We saw it circle around once and then drop through the middle there. ... That's where we saw it break up," Russell said.

The fire from the crash threatened about 10 structures in the immediate area, including homes, trailers and the mechanic's shop.

Many residents had made a narrow escape from wind-whipped flames Sunday night.

"The flames were coming down the mountain toward the town so it was time to go," Dan McCall said as he watched the fire burn a few miles east of town Monday afternoon.

"You could feel the heat and hear the roar of the flames," he said.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 05:00
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Saw the film. To me it seems the spar failed and the wings fell off, and the fire only started after the structural failure. Awful to watch.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 06:35
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Unfortunately, the Hercs were never noted for their negative g loading. Dropping a load puts the aircraft on the limits. Only the investigators will know for sure.

Sad day.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 08:05
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Without Prejudice

Very disturbing pictures of the tragedy. "Eye-witness" reports always see the explosion or flames first because that is what draws their attention. Having watched the video a few times now, the Herc appears to have been pulling out of a descent when both wings separated, almost simultaneously, within the centre box section. The flash fire clearly follows the separation.

There is no spar, in the traditional sense, on the Herc wing.

Since her first flight in 1955, there have been many wing failures due to overstress - Cb penetration is a favourite. The UK MOD learnt, at considerable cost, the importance of using beefed-up centre sections when operating the 130 on frequent low-level ops. Contrary to Lockheed's advice, the MOD opted for "standard" wings, in order to save (I believe) 7k per production airframe on the initial order of 66 aircraft.

When, in the '70s, the test rig at Marshall's of Cambridge unexpectedly broke the C130 test box, the entire RAF fleet was grounded temporarily whilst the NDT team travelled the world to clear each overseas located aircraft back to base. The entire fleet's centre sections were duly replaced at around 250k each.

The military Herc is cleared to pull 3g, clean, operationally, and has a G-meter on the panel. I cannot vouch for the civil version, nor do I know which category the downed firefighter came from. Repeated ops at low level will eventually crack the centre box and result in failure at less than the optimum stress limits.

777AV8R is right about negative g, but all large transports share that weakness for obvious reasons. However, wings rarely fail in negative g but on (the) subsequent positive.

My sincere condolences to the families and friends of the crew who were conducting a dangerous and valuable public service, should they happen to read this thread.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 08:42
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BBC report here

Be advised, contains the video clip.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 09:35
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Thumbs down

The bl**dy BBC have got "Firefighting plane explodes mid-air in California" as their 'video choice'
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 12:42
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Shocking footage

Condolencies to all the families concerned....

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Old 18th Jun 2002, 13:21
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I see what you mean, DrSyn....no evidence of the centre wing still being attached to the fuse...looks like a centre wing failure, sadly - a most terrifying accident. Aircraft was probably an early model (C-130A or B) and most likely would have had the older type wing with the rectangular apertures (manholes) unlike the later ones, which were oval and less likely to produce a stress raiser.

Aerial fire fighting must rate as one of the most hazardous occupations going; I do hope that the crew's sacrifice in the name of public safety does not go unrecognised...
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 13:40
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Just watched the clip...horrible...at least I think one can say it was a very quick end...
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 13:41
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Square access holes??

Didn't anyone learn from the Comet 1?

What absolutely horendous footage.

God bless the crew - leaving us trying to save others.

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Old 18th Jun 2002, 15:43
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Oh my God. How absolutely horrific.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 15:58
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I have just seen the TV footage and sickening it is too. What a dreadful reward for our fellow aviators for their tireless work in fighting some of the biggest fires that the USA has ever seen.

Initially there appears to be a considerable descent rate at an obviously low altitude at the beginning of the clip. My guess would be an overstress during terrain avoidance.

Very sad indeed.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 16:13
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The woman who started the fire must be held accountable.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 16:20
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I thought "the woman" started a Colorado fire. This crash was near Yosemite, California.

My thoughts are with the crew and, more importanly, their families and friends.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 17:03
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It was an ex-USAF C-130A vintage 1957.
And not the first tanker to crash in very similar circumstances ( http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?e...06X02066&key=1 ). Seems to me the right wing clearly separated first.

Brave men.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 19:01
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I wonder if they hit a tree with the right wing?

The very start of the film shows what might possibly be a tree strike with the right wing.

I spent fifteen years fire bombing all over North and South America, having watched the short clip on television there does not seem to be any reason for the pilots to have exceeded the structural limits from the looks of the area being flown over.

I also feel dismay and sadness to watch such a loss of life, having worked with and lost friends under simular circumstances.

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The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 19:25
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Chuck, i couldn't have said it better. No good reason why the wings came off. Hitting a tree would be nasty. The video footage i'm sure will help in the investigation.
Condolences to the frriends and family of those who perished. Brave men who died in the course of duty.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 19:46
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It is my personal belief that the root cause of this (and another) disaster with these old C-130 aircraft is the (mis) management of the US Forest Service a few years ago requesting bailed aircraft from the military....in the mistaken belief that piston powered aeroplanes were "old fashioned" and needed to be replaced with turbine powered machines. Absolutely nothing wrong with the P3 aircraft, but these old C-130 models are just not up to the task.

Just about in line with the type of thinking that today goes on in the USFS...when one of their OWN set the campfire that results today in the blaze just outside Denver.
There needs to be a top-to-bottom realignment in the Forest Service, IMHO, and the sooner the better. Just last year for example, the very large fire just outside Los Alamos was just another example of the incompetence that riddles that agency.
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Old 18th Jun 2002, 20:20
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411A: and everyone else here..

I quit flying firebombers because the bureaucracy within government had taken complete control of decision making and policy for aerial fire supression.

To continue working under their system would have required me to compromise my self worth by becoming one of them, this I could never do.

Thirty years ago private enterprise contracted to government for aerial fire suppression, we actually performed the job that we contracted to do...we put out the fires before they had a chance to become uncontrollable. We performed this task by the very simple method of initial attack as soon as there was a report of a possible fire.. We also understood how to effectively attack and supress forest fires.

I quit in 1986 because by that time almost all aerial fire suppression had come under the umbrella of government employees, they can only do one thing very well and that is build and protect an ever expanding bureaucracy.

You are now blessed with the end result.

Stupidity, Arrogance and corruption of what was once a very proud and professional industry, aerial fire suppression.

Accidents such as we have just witnessed on T.V. are not only tragic but in the grand scheme of things today just another example of good people trying to do the almost impossible... Protect the public and the forest from forest fires.

Truly tragic.

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The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no.
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