An air attack plane crashed May 17 in Arizona

We just found out that an air attack plane under contract to the Department of the Interior crashed May 17 at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. The Rockwell Aero Commander 500S impacted the ground shortly after takeoff.

The aircraft was on an orientation flight for a new pilot on the air attack contract. It was operated by Ponderosa Aviation and was taking off from Sierra Vista Municipal Airport – Libby Army Airfield, in Arizona.

Below is an excerpt from the NTSB preliminary report:

The pilot and certified flight instructor were seriously injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage throughout. The airplane was registered to, and operated by Ponderosa Aviation Inc. under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an orientation flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local area flight.

Witnesses reported they observed the airplane takeoff normally. When it was over the departure end of the runway, they heard a distinct “pop pop” noise followed by silence. The airplane immediately made a steep left turn; as the wings started to level, it descended below rising terrain. Shortly thereafter they observed a large dust cloud.

On November 23, 2011 another Ponderosa Aviation aircraft, a Rockwell 690, crashed, killing six people including three children and Russel Hardy, a co-owner of the company. The NTSB concluded that the cause of that crash on a moonless night was “controlled flight into terrain”.

Although the airplane was technically not airworthy due to the unaccomplished inspection, the investigation did not reveal any preimpact airframe, avionics, engine, or propeller discrepancies that would have precluded normal operation. Airplane performance derived from radar tracking data did not suggest any mechanical abnormalities or problems.

Contributing to the accident were the pilot’s complacency and lack of situational awareness and his failure to use air traffic control visual flight rules flight following or minimum safe altitude warning services. Also contributing to the accident was the airplane’s lack of onboard terrain awareness and warning system equipment.

An air attack plane operated by Houston Air experienced a very hard landing at Wilcox, AZ on July 2.

Thanks and a hat tip go out to Duncan.

UDPATE: Hard landing for an Air Attack ship at Willcox

Courtesy Cochise County Sheriff's Office
Courtesy Cochise County Sheriff’s Office

Update 5:45 p.m. MDT, July 7, 2014; originally published July 3, 2014): An air attack fixed wing aircraft, an Aero Commander 500, overshot the runway while landing at Wilcox, AZ (map) on July 2.

The two people on board were not injured when their plane had a “hard landing” at the airport around 7:35 p.m., according to the Wilcox Range News. They were transported to a local hospital and were later released.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident. The plane was operating under a federal contract with Houston Air, and was flying back from the Whetstone Mountains Fire, also called the Radio Fire.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the Coronado National Forest had operational control of the 600 acre fire. The Forest considered the fire a possible threat, they said, but the fire was not burning on forest land. The Arizona State Forestry Division ordered the plane at the Forest’s request.

Carrie Dennett, a spokesperson for Arizona State Forestry Division, told us her agency had operational control of the aircraft.

New National Historic Landmark recognizes mid-air over the Grand Canyon

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis today marked National Park Week by announcing the designation of four new national historic landmarks

  • Adlai Stevenson II Farm in Illinois,
  • The Detroit Industry Murals in Michigan,
  • George Nakashima Woodworker Complex in Pennsylvania, and
  • 1956 Grand Canyon TWA-United Airlines Aviation Accident Site in Arizona.

Below is a brief description of the mid-air crash of two airliners over the Grand Canyon.

1956 Grand Canyon TWA-United Airlines Aviation Accident Site, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

On June 30, 1956, a Trans World Airlines Super Constellation L-1049 and a United Airlines DC-7 collided in uncongested airspace 21,000 feet over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, killing all 128 people onboard the two flights. The tragedy spurred an unprecedented effort to modernize and increase safety in America’s postwar airways, culminating in the establishment of the modern Federal Aviation Administration. Other improvements that resulted from the crash included nationwide radar coverage, a common military/civilian navigation system, and the development of technologies such as collision avoidance systems and flight data recorders.

1956 crash over Grand Canyon
The severed tail section of the Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation operating as TWA Flight 2 on June 30, 1956. TWA Flight 2 collided with United Flight 718 in what became known as the 1956 Grand Canyon mid-air collision. The photo was taken by National Park Service employees in the course of the Civil Aeronautics Board’s investigation of the crash.

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

Pilot killed in logging helicopter crash in Oregon

Logging helicopter crash Oregon
Logging helicopter crash in Oregon. Photo by Linn County Sheriff’s Office.

A helicopter hauling logs for a logging contractor on the Willamette National Forest crashed Monday afternoon, killing the pilot, William Bart Colantuono, 54, of Indialantic, Florida. The incident occurred in a remote area near Idanha, Oregon southeast of Salem. Mr. Colantuono had appeared in the History Channel’s series, “Ax Men”.

From KATU:

The sheriff’s office said witnesses of the crash gave deputies the following account: The helicopter, a 1962 Bell UH1B, was being used to transport logs from the cutting area to a log deck in Idanha. It had just returned after the pilot had taken a 45 minute break.

The helicopter had picked up a load when witnesses reported hearing a loud snapping sound which was followed by logs hitting the ground and it appeared the pilot had released the logs electronically, indicating the pilot knew of a problem prior to the crash.

Witnesses then saw a rotor separate from the helicopter followed by it turning upside down and falling to the ground.

The helicopter is owned by Umatilla Lift Services in Florida. Photo of of Mr. Colantuono.

Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Colantuono’s family and co-workers.

 

Thanks go out to Ken

Kamov KA-32 helicopter crashes while fighting wildfire in B.C.

Kamov 32 at Loulé heliport in Portugal
Kamov KA-32 at Loulé heliport in Portugal, similar to the one that crashed in B.C. Sunday. Photo by Bill Gabbert, August 29, 2012.

A Russian-built Kamov KA-32 helicopter made a crash landing in British Columbia Sunday, August 4. Jen Norie of VIH Aviation Group confirmed that one of their helicopters was conducting water dropping operations on a wildfire near Bella Colla, British Columbia using an external bucket when the aircraft developed an engine problem. The ship made a hard landing on uneven terrain collapsing at least one landing gear, which caused the aircraft to tip over about 30 degrees. The twin overhead counter-rotating main rotors struck the ground, which of course destroyed them.

Thankfully the two pilots walked away with no injuries, so in that sense it was a “good landing”. There were no passengers on board.

Ms. Norie said the company has been operating KA-32s since the mid-1990s, accumulating over 46,000 flight hours without a major incident, until Sunday.

Helicopter crashes into river near Missoula

A helicopter made a crash landing into a river Friday while recertifying for water bucket operations near Missoula, Montana. The Missoulian, which has a photo of the Bell 206L-3 sitting upright in three feet of water, reported that it crashed into the Clark Fork River off Big Flat Road west of Missoula. (Another photo.) The article said the pilot, who reported a mechanical failure, and a passenger both survived the crash. The passenger got to shore on his own, while rescuers got the pilot out of the ship and to safety.

The N number on the helicopter is under water and not visible in the photo but the Missoulian article said the helicopter is owned by a Lewiston, Idaho company.

The helicopter sitting in the river has a paint job similar to those at Hillcrest Aviation, based in Lewiston, Idaho.

 

Thanks go out to Dick and Chris

Report released on 2010 crash of helicopter in B.C.

BC helicopter crash
Crash of a helicopter in B.C., July 29, 2010. Canada TSB photo.

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada has released a report on the crash of a firefighting helicopter that occurred about 20 nautical miles northwest of Lillooet, British Columbia July 29, 2010. Two pilots were on board dropping water on the Jade fire — both of them were hospitalized with injuries. The helicopter was on contract to the B.C. Fire Service by TransWest Helicopters, based in Chilliwack.

The helicopter lost power due to a fuel flow problem. Below are some excerpts from the report:

As the helicopter slowed and started to descend past a ridgeline into the creek valley, the engine lost power. The pilot-in-command, seated in the left-hand seat, immediately turned the helicopter left to climb back over the ridgeline to get to a clearing, released the water bucket and the 130-foot long-line from the belly hook, and descended toward an open area to land. The helicopter touched down hard on uneven, sloping terrain, and pitched over the nose. When the advancing main-rotor blade contacted the ground, the airframe was in a near-vertical, nose-down attitude, which then rotated the fuselage, causing it to land on the left side. A small post-crash fire ignited. The pilot-in-command sustained a concussion and was rendered unconscious. The copilot escaped with minor injuries and dragged the pilot-in-command from the wreckage. The pilot-in-command regained consciousness a few minutes later. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The 406-megahertz emergency locator transmitter was activated, but its antenna fitting fractured; as a result, the search and rescue satellite network did not receive a signal.

[…]

Findings as to causes and contributing factors

  1. The engine fuel control unit was contaminated with metallic debris that likely disrupted fuel flow and caused the engine to lose power.
  2. The nature and slope of the terrain in the touchdown area caused the helicopter to roll over during the emergency landing.

The official report can be found on the TSB web site.
Wildfire Today reported the incident July 29, 2010.