Air tanker slides off runway at Manning, Alberta

The crew of two was transported to a hospital for evaluation.

(UPDATED at 8:59 a.m. MDT, May 7, 2016)

The Whistler Question reports that the pilot of the air tanker that slid off the runway at Manning, Alberta “suffered a medical episode” and the co-pilot was forced to land the plane. This occurred while the aircraft was approaching to land.

Below is an excerpt from the article:

…During the emergency landing at the airport strip, the plane veered off the runway and came to rest in the ditch, luckily without catching fire.

The co-pilot was not injured and walked away from the crash, but the pilot suffered a cut to the head, though he was conscious and breathing when first responders arrived.

His injuries are not considered life-threatening.

Global News had a similar report.


(Originally published at 9:42 p.m. MDT May 5, 2016)

Above: Alberta premier Rachel Notley confirms the air tanker incident at Manning.

An air tanker slid off the runway Thursday at the Manning, Alberta airport. There were no fatalities but the two pilots were being evaluated at a hospital. The air tanker had been working a fire near Manning before the incident.

T 45 at Manning Alberta
An air tanker at Manning Alberta slid off the runway on Thursday. CTV news photo.

CBC news quoted Eleanor Miclette, the acting chief administrative officer for the County of Northern Lights, who said the air crew lost control of the plane’s steering and crash-landed at the end of the runway around 4 p.m. The aircraft, a Convair, leaked fuel following the crash but there was no fire.

The position of the aircraft in the photo above is similar to that in the 2010 off-runway excursion of Neptune’s Tanker 44, a P2V, when a hydraulic failure upon landing led to inadequate brakes. The position is reminiscent of Minden’s Tanker 48 in 2014 that had a hydraulic failure causing the nose wheel to collapse while landing.

Tanker 45 at JEFFCO
Conair’s Tanker 45 at JEFFCO airport near Denver, June 2012 during the High Park Fire. In the Canadian aircraft registry, it is listed as a Convair 340-32 manufactured in 1953. Photo by Shane Harvey.

Report: MV-22 Osprey crash caused by dust from rotor wash

The Marine Corps investigation into the crash of an MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft May 17 in Hawaii determined that it was caused by dust stirred up by the rotor wash.

File photo of MV-22 Osprey. USAF photo..

After making multiple attempts to land in brown-out conditions, the buildup of debris on the turbine blades and vanes led to a compressor stall in the left engine, which decreased lift and resulted in the hard landing and fire.

The report found that pilot performance and an improper site survey of the landing zone led to the accident, resulting in the deaths of two and injuries to 20 on board.

The potential for the Osprey to deliver water or personnel to fight wildfires was evaluated by the Marine Corps in tests with a 900-gallon water bucket. They recommended that the aircraft not exceed 90 knots with a bucket and 50 knots when dropping water.

MV-22 Osprey with bucket
MV-22 Osprey with bucket. DOD photo.

The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft capable of vertical or short takeoff and landing. When airborne, it can cruise at over 300 mph, can carry 24 to 32 troops, or 15,000 pounds of external cargo.

However, there are some issues that would stand in the way of the Osprey fighting fires, such as the very powerful rotor wash that has injured people nearby, the extreme heat that comes out of the engine exhaust which has started wildland fires and damaged flight decks on ships, and the high cost of $83,256 dollars an hour.

We have written a number of articles at Fire Aviation and at Wildfire Today about the MV-22 Osprey and its suitability for fighting fires.

More information about Croman’s S-61A crash

S-61A crash sikorsky helicopter
S-61A crash

It was initially described as a “hard landing”. However, information from the FAA and a photo we received indicate an incident that involved one of Croman’s S-61A Sikorsky helicopters on August 19, 2015 (that we wrote about on August 24) was more than that. We can’t verify with 100 percent certainty that the helicopter in the photo above is Croman’s S-61A, N1043T that crashed that day while working on the Eldorado Fire eight miles southeast of Unity, Oregon. But the person who sent us the photo said it is, and the paint job, the position of the helicopter, and the damage to the tail boom match the NTSB’s description of the crash.

Below is text from the NTSB Preliminary Report, ID# WPR15LA248, that was updated on September 3, 2015:


“14 CFR Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 19, 2015 in Ironside, OR
Aircraft: SIKORSKY S 61A, registration: N1043T
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 19, 2015, about 1930 Pacific daylight time, a Sikorsky S-61A, N1043T, landed on a mountainside after experiencing a partial loss of engine power about 7 miles west of Ironside, Oregon. The commercial pilot sustained no injuries and the air transport pilot sustained minor injuries. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tailboom. The helicopter was registered to, and operated by, Croman Corp under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 133 as a firefighting flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated under a company flight plan. The flight originated from Baker City Municipal Airport (BKE), Baker City, Oregon at 1715.

The commercial pilot reported that shortly after picking up a bucket of water from a pond he gained airspeed and initiated a climbing left turn back towards the fire. As the helicopter started to climb, he heard a drop in RPM and the helicopter lost power. He attempted to continue the climb; however, the helicopter was too heavy. He released the water and landed the helicopter on a mountain side; subsequently, the helicopter rolled onto its right side.

The helicopter has been recovered to a secure location for further examination.”


UPDATE, September 15, 2015:

Earlier this year a Croman S-61A helicopter’s main rotor hit a tree while dipping water on the Cabin Fire on the Sequoia National Forest in California. Below is an excerpt from the Rapid Lesson Sharing report dated August 4, 2015:


“…As the pilots descended into the dipsite, the SIC communicated instructions to the PIC to “stay left” of the trees. While in the dip, the PIC heard what he suspected was a blade strike, called out the strike, jettisoned the water and immediately initiated a climb out to get clear of the area.

The pilots assessed the condition of the blades and saw no noticeable damage while in flight. On the climb out, the SIC noticed a smaller di-ameter tree (estimated to be about 8 ft. in height) that had been located at the helicopter’s 4 o’clock position, and missing its top. The Air Attack was notified about the potential blade strike and the pilots provided their intentions to land at the first opportunity. During the short flight to the first suitable landing site, the pilots noted no vibrations or abnormalities.

The crew performed a precautionary landing in a field located approximately 10 minutes away from the dip site. The Helicopter Manager was notified of the situation via cell phone. After shut down was complete, the pilots inspected the main rotor blade damage. Maintenance inspectors determined the main rotor blades, rotor-head, transmission and high speed shafts required replacement. The NTSB deter-mined the blade strike as an “Incident”, and it was further classified by the Forest Service as an “Incident with Potential”…”

Croman S-61A helicopter experiences hard landing

S-61A hard landing Croman
File photo of a Croman helicopter taken in 2014. This is not the helicopter that experienced the hard landing August 19, 2015. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

At approximately 7:15 p.m. PT on August 19, a Croman S-61A helicopter working on the Eldorado Fire eight miles southeast of Unity, Oregon experienced a hard landing. The incident occurred on the west portion of the fire near King Creek in the vicinity of a medical unit serving firefighters on the line.

According to the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), two persons were on board. When the helicopter came to rest, both exited the helicopter and signaled that they were unhurt by waving to the medical unit. While no significant injuries were apparent, both individuals were transported by ambulance to St. Alphonsus Ontario Medical Center for further evaluation.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the Baker City Herald:

…Gary Wiltrout, 67, of Boise, said he and his co-pilot Scott Talada, 65, of Baker City, had been flying for about six hours on Wednesday dumping water on the Eldorado fire when the engine failure occurred about 7:15 p.m.

They were taking water from a pond known as Murphy’s dip, near Highway 26 leaving Unity. Wiltrout said that up to that point, there was no indication there was anything wrong with the helicopter.“We had just picked up a bucket of water, then the engine rpm changed and we started losing altitude,” Wiltrout said. “I got rid of the water right away.”

Then, they lost an engine.

“I tried to make it out with one engine,” Wiltrout said.

The FAA reports there was “substantial damage” to the aircraft.

The helicopter has a Call When Needed contract with the U.S. Forest Service, but at the time of the accident it was working under the operational control of the ODF on one of their fires.

Air tanker crashes in British Columbia lake

A single engine air tanker crashed in a lake in British Columbia Friday afternoon, July 10. The Air Tractor 802-F Fire Boss amphibious air tanker was scooping water from Puntzi Lake (map) at about 2:15 p.m. when the Conair plane had some sort of difficulty and sank. The pilot was not injured, according to Bill Yearwood with Transportation Safety Board.

Mr. Yearwood said,“We are quite familiar with the aircraft and its operation and there is no information to suggest there’s been any problems in advance of this.”

The fire that the aircraft was working on is on the west side of Puntzi Lake, about 130 kilometers (81 miles) west of Williams Lake. At the last report it had burned about 1,200 hectares (2,965 acres).

Puntzi Lake air tanker crash
The pointer marks the location of Puntzi Lake, the site of the air tanker crash in British Columbia.

This was the 4th crash or serious incident involving a Conair single engine air tanker in the last 13 months.

On May 22, 2015 another Conair 802-F Fire Boss crashed in Alberta, killing the pilot.

An engine failure on Conair’s Air Tanker 699, an Air Tractor AT-802A, during training resulted in damage to a float upon landing. The incident occurred April 11, 2015 on Harrison Lake, BC, 33 nm NNE of Abbotsford.

A Conair Air Tractor 802-F Fireboss crashed and and sank August 14, 2014 while scooping water on Chantslar Lake in British Columbia, Canada about 30 kilometers west of Puntzi Mountain. Jeff Berry of Conair said the pilot was able to exit the Single Engine Air Tanker, but was held overnight in a hospital in William’s Lake and released Friday morning.

AT-802F Fire Boss
File photo of one of Conair’s AT-802F Fire Boss air tankers. Photo by Peter Unmuth.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Chris.

Hotshot crew raising funds for Tanker 11 memorial

The Lone Peak Hotshots are conducting a fundraising effort to build a memorial to honor the two pilots that were killed when a P2V, Tanker 11, crashed while working on the White Rock Fire near the Utah/Nevada border in 2012. The NTSB investigation concluded that Pilots Todd Tompkins and Ron Chambless died when the aircraft crashed while maneuvering to make their second drop on the fire that day.

Kris Bruington, the Superintendent of the Lone Peak Hotshot crew, sent us a message asking that we encourage our readers to help establish the memorial. Here is an excerpt from his email:


“On June 03, 2012, tragedy struck the fire and aviation community. The Missoula-based Tanker 11 piloted by Captain Todd Neal Tompkins, 48, of Boise, Idaho and Co-Pilot Ronnie Edwin Chambless, 40, of Boise, Idaho had been working on the east flank of the White Rock Fire on the Utah-Nevada border west of Cedar City, Utah. Tanker 11 was on approach for the second retardant drop of the day on our Division, when it crashed. Neither pilot survived.

“The crew is leading the effort to raise funds for a memorial to honor both Todd and Ronnie. We will facilitate the tribute and will provide the bulk of the hard labor necessary to install the memorial and improve the site. Two 5′ tall granite Obelisks engraved with the names of the two fallen comrades, and featuring a color image of Tanker 11 will be placed at the crash site.

“I know each year we all are asked to donate in some way to memorials and those in time of need. If you are in a position to be able to help with a monetary donation for this memorial, it would be greatly appreciated. If at the least you could pass this message on to others, that would be of tremendous help as well.

“The fundraising page can be found at

Pilot killed in Alberta air tanker crash

From the Toronto Sun:


“The lone occupant of a firefighting plane that crashed Friday afternoon [May 22, 2015] in northern Alberta has died, a company spokesman confirmed.

Jeff Berry of Conair Aerial Firefighting told Postmedia Network that the plane, an AT-802 Fireboss amphibious water bomber, crashed just after 4:30 p.m. MDT, about 40 km north of Cold Lake near the Saskatchewan border.

Crews are fighting an out-of-control 300 ha wildfire in the area, in the vicinity of Burnt Lake, Alta., near the CFB Cold Lake’s weapons range and an Imperial Oil facility.

Berry said the 37-year old pilot was no stranger to fighting wildfires.

“This was his fourth season, so he was well-experienced,” Berry said.

Berry said the single-seater plane was relatively new, built in 2009.

AT-802F Fire Boss
File photo of one of Conair’s AT-802F Fire Boss air tankers. Photo by Peter Unmuth.

He expressed his condolences to the friends and family of the pilot, and expressed his gratitude to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) and Cold Lake Search and Rescue for their quick response.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada was sending an investigation team, expected to arrive Saturday morning, TSB spokesman Julie Leroux confirmed.

Cold Lake is about 230 km northeast of Edmonton.”


Our sincere condolences go out to the the pilot’s family, friends, and to Conair.

The fire is in the Cold Lake Weapons Range, 40 km (25 miles) north of Cold Lake near Burnt Lake, and has burned approximately 3000 hectares (7400 acres).

Logging helicopter crashes in Washington

(UPDATED at 2:26 p.m. MDT, May 9, 2015)

The Hungry Hill Fire. InciWeb photo, May 8, 2015.
The Hungry Hill Fire. InciWeb photo, May 8, 2015.

The Hungry Hill fire, started when a logging helicopter crashed, has burned about 70 acres in the northeast corner of Washington. The fire is burning in a logged area, and firefighters are challenged by rolling logs. Two additional Type 1 crews arriving today should enhance their progress.

A helicopter prepares to drop water on the Hungry Hill Fire. InciWeb photo, May 8, 2015.
A helicopter prepares to drop water on the Hungry Hill Fire. InciWeb photo, May 8, 2015.


(Originally published at 12:20 p.m. MDT May 8, 2015)

On May 7 a helicopter working on a logging operation in the northeast corner of Washington crashed and started a fire. A spokesperson for the Forest Service said the 30-year old female pilot was rescued and is in stable condition at a hospital in Colville.

The crash of the UH-1 helicopter, at about 5:45 p.m., occurred on the Colville National Forest, 26 miles northwest of Colville, Washington and 7 miles south of the Canadian border.

A witness said the helicopter had just lifted off with a load of logs when there was a loud popping noise before it crashed.

The crash started what has become a 50-acre fire named Hungry Hill. It is being fought by 100 firefighters.