Updated at 6:01 a.m. PST January 23, 2020 (US time)
A C-130Q air tanker (N134CG) crashed in southern New South Wales Thursday January 23 (Australia time). All three members of the crew perished.
Coulson Aviation released a statement saying their aircraft, Tanker 134, had departed from Richmond NSW on a firebombing mission and went down in the Snowy Monaro area. There were three fatalities.
Tanker 134 had been working on a contract in Australia since August, 2019.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will be investigating the incident which they said occurred at Peak View near Cooma, NSW. The agency is expected to release a preliminary report within 30 days.
New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said Coulson has grounded its entire fleet of air tankers out of respect for those who died. “Our hearts are with all those that are suffering in what is the loss of three remarkable, well-respected crew that have invested so many decades of their life into firefighting,” he said.
Cameron Price of 7NEWS Sydney reported on the incident:
Wreckage of missing RFS C-130 located by search crews. Reports only tail section intact. Aircraft has broken up on impact. Crews reporting difficult terrain and “terrible visibility”.
The Premier of New South Wales said out of respect for the crew flags would fly at half mast in the state, and:
Heartbreaking & devastating news that three US residents who were crew members operating a LAT in the Snowy Mountains region have lost their lives. Our thoughts & heartfelt condolences are with their families & the tight knit firefighting community.
The U.S. Ambassador to Australia, Arthur B. Culvahuse Jr. said:
I am deeply saddened by the tragic news we received today. The brave Americans who died near Snowy Monaro died helping Australia in its time of need. The families and friends of those who we have lost are in our thoughts and prayers. Thank you Australia for your sympathy and solidarity.
From the Canadian Interagency Fire Centre:
@CIFFC and its member agencies are deeply saddened by this tragic event. We send our condolences to our firefighting colleagues at #CoulsonAviation & @NSWRFS
Earlier the New South Wales Rural Fire Service reported that contact had been lost with a large air tanker that was working in the southern part of the state in the Snowy Monaro area.
Our sincere condolences go out to the families, friends, and coworkers of the crew.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom. Typos or errors, report them HERE.