Another fire fighting tanker has just crashed near Denver. The radio broadcast that one of the wings may have come off in flight. Followed immediately by an explosion. That is all the information at this time.
I've been flying trips by that fire the last 3 days, and was airborne when it happened around 6:30 p.m.. I didn't here anything on ATC about a crash. Actually, I didn't find out about it until I just got home. Its some scarry stuff.
I'd encourage folks to leave Mr. Rez alone. I have discussed the situation with him, and understand his feelings. They were misplaced, he knows it, but was very frustrated after his house burned to the ground during the Chedeski fire.
I have a very lengthy reply from him explaining the entire story behind his situation and his comment, and there is really nothing more that needs doing with that situation. Those who were in Winslow when the comment was made have let it go...folks who weren't there should forget it, too.
It's far too early to even begin to speculate what happened to T-123. I'm deeply saddened at the loss. I got my CV-P4Y type rating in that airplane, and flew it on several contracts. I flew on my first fire with Rick Schwartz, and when Milt Stollack was in town for training, I gave him my car to get around.
I took a leave of absence several days ago to accept a fire contract, and have left my white-shirt air conditioned cockpit for a tanker, again. I started my contract yesterday, and will be unable to post as regularly as I have in previous months.
This makes five fellow heavy tanker drivers in the past few days who have been killed over fires, all in the same airplanes I flew; they were the same crews I flew with. I feel great sympathy for their families. Unfortunately, they're by far not the first, and won't be the last. I the past few days, several single engine air tankers have crashed; it's very unlikely the season will conclude this year without the loss of several more tankers. It's turning out to be a typical year in that respect, in all it's terrible routineness.
The crew of T-123 were good men, good co-workers, and good pilots. T-123 was a magnificent airplane. There are no words to express the loss...again.
One of the pilots had his wife at the tanker base, awaiting his return. Can you imagine what it would have to be like, to tell her her husband just died. Craig Lebares (T-130) widow, Laurie, posts on the air tanker message board.
Currently, there are no death benefits for air tanker pilots, since it is all contractor work. In the California state assembly, there is a bill to give death benefits to air tanker crews who are die fighting fires in CA. I hope it passes
My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of all those involved.
Take care of yourself avbug.
The comment on the last slide (on the link posted above) says that this crash led to the grounding of firefighting planes nationwide. Does anyone know if they are still grounded and the specifics of this? Just curious.
As of cutoff time last night, fixed wing tankers were still grounded, but not helicopters. We spent the day sitting under the wing waiting, with no word.
Grounding all the tankers over this is ridiculous, but it's the same logic that says when the chicken coop burns down, we should dehorn all the cows. No sense at all.
The news article linked above wasn't entirely accurate; more firefighters than that have been killed this season. Several SEATS (single engine air tankers) have crashed this season; several this week. (Of interest to me this year, since I'm flying one).
On a slightly different note, last night a gentleman showed up at the airport in a brightly polished Cessna 140. He put up a tent under the wing and was going to spend the night at the airport. We got a Level 5 Tstm blowing through that really put out some wind and rain, and he was soaked, along with all his stuff.
I spent some time talking with him; he's on his way to Oshkosh. He restored the airplane on his own, put himself through A&P school, did the airplane while he was there. Was a mech for United, and got furloughed. Fulfilling a dream and all that. Great stories, and he's doing just what I'd like to do.
I invited him back to the hanger here where it would be a bit more dry, and we talked about his trip, life, flying. It's great to meet people who still remember what flying is all about, and who still take pleasure in what they do.
You should have seen the polish on that airplane. There's nothing better than polished aluminum. Fly safe, everybody.