Tanker 73’s incident upon landing at Hemet


Tanker 73Tanker 73, one of CAL FIRE’s 23 S-2Ts, had a problem while landing at Hemet-Ryan Airport Friday evening in southern California. Thankfully there were no injuries. The air tanker with one person on board made a retardant drop earlier in the evening on the Rose fire near Perris. It returned to Hemet to reload, and took off again for the same fire but was canceled before dropping the second load according to CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Julie Hutchinson. Upon landing at 5:40 p.m. there was an “incident”, she said. The Chief did not know if it landed on its wheels.

“I’m not sure if they kept the whole load or not,” she said. “Normally they will jettison the load in situations like that. But there was an unknown amount of retardant still on board. How much and how much it weighed, that’s something investigators will be looking at.”

Congratulations to the pilot for keeping the aircraft on the runway.

These first three photos were supplied by the Hemet Police Department.

Tanker 73
This photo, supplied by the Hemet Police Department, appears to be distorted — stretched sideways.

Tanker 73

The airport was closed Friday night because the air tanker was still on a runway, but the other two air tankers at Hemet-Ryan were relocated to the Ramona Air Attack Base east of San Diego.

Tanker 73
Tanker 73, October, 2012. Photo by Iwan.


Thanks go out to Johnny

12 thoughts on “Tanker 73’s incident upon landing at Hemet”

  1. It is very unlikely that the over center locks on the main and nose landing gear would have all failed simultaneously due to an over gross landing. Note that the aircraft is basically wings level and that the scrape marks indicate the aircraft weight was on the belly tank indicating that none of the landing gear were supporting the airframe. Usually what happens is that a single gear fails and the others remain intact. The S-2 was designed for 800 fpm sink rate carrier landings. It has a very robust airframe and landing gear.

    The starboard engine was rotating at impact … prop blade tips all damaged. Port engine prop blades not too visible but appear to be at a significantly different pitch setting.

    I could speculate but lets wait and see what the mishap investigation decides.

    1. I see bent prop tips on the port engine as well. Blade tip aligned with wing leading edge shows damage. Just glad people are okay, planes can be fixed!

    1. Have to ask a CALFIRE pilot. My experience with S-2’s goes back to S-2F’s. We could land the station airplane at the field at max gross takeoff weight if the landing was flared.

      1. In the years when BC worked the Firecats (S2’s), if a mission was aborted, the aircraft was required to drop one door’s worth (180 imp. gallons) of retardant before landing.

  2. Calfire and DynCorp asked us to not comment this incident. We’re waiting for the final investigation report. Should be up very soon.

  3. Looks like a classic “forgot to put the gear handle down until the noise started” incident. Having been in aviation for decades I’ve seen this more than once. I agree with the comments about waiting on the report however if my theory holds true, there will be no definitive evidence found that will tell us what happen. The best items to have in an incident like this is a Cockpit Voice Recorder along with a Flight Data Recorder, I doubt the S2 has a FDR.

    Sad to see a good airplane on it’s belly. I feel bad for the pilot and maintenance crew.

  4. Pilot admitted he didn’t complete the check list and didn’t put the gear down.

    It happened before and can happen to any pilot.

  5. This is not the first time this has happened to a Hemet S-2 this season. Earlier this year an S-2 from Hemet working out of Fox Tanker Base in Lancaster also forgot to put the gear down but was able to abort the landing and go around.

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