Accident Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon N6856C,
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Date:Sunday 20 April 1997
Type:Silhouette image of generic L37 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon
Owner/operator:Hirth Air Tankers
Registration: N6856C
MSN: 15-1156
Total airframe hrs:3497 hours
Engine model:Pratt & Whitney R-2800-31
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:Blandburg, PA -   United States of America
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Nature:Fire fighting
Departure airport:Philipsburg-Mid-State Airport, PA (PSB/KPSB)
Destination airport:Philipsburg-Mid-State Airport, PA (PSB/KPSB)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The pilot/owner of an air tanker was dispatched to drop a load of retardant on a fire burning up a valley wall. The pilot made radio contact with the firefighters on the ground, who requested that the pilot deliver the entire load on the first drop. A helicopter pilot who was dropping water on the fire positioned himself about a mile away to allow the air tanker to make its drop. The winds were from the northwest at 15 knots and gusting to 20 knots, and the helicopter pilot reported turbulence in the area. The helicopter pilot watched as the air tanker came from the northeast, overflew the fire, and made a descending counterclockwise turn. he airplane flew towards the fire parallel to the valley ridge, and the helicopter pilot observed the air tanker drop its retardant. During the drop, the airplane flew through smoke, and its right wing impacted trees on the upslope side of the valley. The airplane then rolled 90 degrees and descended into the steeply inclined wooded terrain.

PROBABLE CAUSE: Pilot in command misjudged his maneuvering altitude. Factors to this accident were the mountainous terrain, windy conditions, turbulence in the area, and smoke.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: IAD97FA065
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 3 years and 6 months
Download report: Final report




Revision history:


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