Bill Gabbert Farewell - Fire Aviation

Brief initial report released about the Chinook crash into Salmon River

N388RZ Boeing CH-47D crash
N388RA Boeing CH-47D at Penticton Airport in British Columbia July 16, 2022. Image from VMC Aviation Videos. It had stopped for fuel on the way from Alaska to Idaho.

The US Forest Service has released a brief initial report about the July 21 crash of the Boeing CH-47D helicopter in the Salmon River while working on the Moose Fire 20 air miles northwest of Salmon, Idaho. The two pilots were killed.

Below is the complete text of the narrative section of the document which was dated July 22, 2022, but was not posted on the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned site until today around noon.

On Thursday, July 21, a call when needed CH-47D Series Chinook Helicopter crashed into the Salmon River, adjacent to the Indianola Work Center approximately 11 miles west of North Fork, Idaho on the Moose Fire. The aircraft sustained severe damage, the pilots were extracted and transported to hospitals but both sustained fatal injuries. The NTSB has been notified and will be conducting an accident investigation. The USDA Forest Service has assigned a learning review team.

The pilots, the only personnel on board, were Thomas Hayes, 41, of Post Falls, Idaho, and Jared Bird, 36, of Anchorage, Alaska.

The helicopter was operated by Anchorage-based ROTAK Helicopter Services.

The FAA confirms that the registration number of the helicopter is N388RA, which is one of two CH-47D ships ROTAK recently purchased from Columbia Helicopters.

where the CH-47 crashed July 21, 2022
The general area where the CH-47D crashed July 21, 2022. Google Earth. The red shading represents the approximate area Moose Fire, but the portion of the fire at the bottom of the image is cut off.

There are unconfirmed reports that a hotshot crew was nearby when it crashed and they went into the Salmon River and extricated the pilots in an attempt to save them.

The last time Flight Aware tracked N388FA was at 3:02 p.m. MDT July 21. Because of the rugged terrain, it first showed it north of the Salmon Airport. Then it went northwest generally toward the Moose Fire and lost tracking at 3:12 p.m. before it reached the river.

As an example of the terrain here is a photo of the Comet Fire I took a few years ago from Highway 93 just east of the current Moose Fire, 13 air miles north of Salmon, ID. The Salmon River is in the foreground.

Comet Fire, July 28, 2016
Comet Fire, July 28, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The video below was shot at Penticton Airport in British Columbia July 16, 2022 when it stopped for fuel en route from Alaska to Idaho.

The GoFundMe fundraisers for the two pilots can be found through the following links:

Typos, let us know HERE. And, please keep in mind our commenting ground rules before you post a comment.

10 thoughts on “Brief initial report released about the Chinook crash into Salmon River”

  1. Sad, and right in the front yard of the Indianola base nonetheless!

    For those of you that have not heard about the heroism that took place during this incident.

    Some Hotshots were on the river bank when the ship went down (unsure on which crew). Without regard for their own safety, these brave Shots swam the raging Salmon and extricated the pilots in an attempt to save them! This conduct is nothing short of meritorious and deserves recognition!

    I propose we nominate these, yet to be named individuals!

  2. I’m sure out there somewhere is a picture of the Heroic Crew that went “Above and Beyond” to save the 47 Crew. If possible maybe post on fire

  3. To those who went in to rescue Jared and Tommy I am forever indebted to you. Jared was my nephew and friend! He and Tom will be greatly missed by all. I know the Hotshots are a tight group of “Family”. Thank you ALL for your courage and bravery! MLHR

    1. SO sorry to hear of your loss . . . I’m biting my lip and my eyes are wet. When the going gets tough, the true men and women step up to the challenges they are presented with. I hope we are all grateful for this unfortunately fading human quality. I will not insult them by even mentioning the converse.

  4. The chinook is a very robust helicopter. Outfitted to military standards of safety and reliability. The pilots that fly them are some of the best. It is a tragic loss to the chinook community As a chinook crewman I personally feel the families pain and my heart goes out to them and those intrepid airmen. RIP

  5. These folks are true heroes. I hope they are recognized and cared for. A deep tragedy to be a part of.

    My husband flew a Lama at Indianola for many years.
    There is a memorial plaque on a rock there for him

    Indianola is near and dear to me and many firefighters. This accident was a real gut punch. I am soooo, sorry and send my condolences to the pilot’s families.

What are your thoughts?