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Thread: Pilots Die In Crash of Helicopter While Fighting Wildfire

  1. #1
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Pilots Die In Crash of Helicopter While Fighting Wildfire

    Preliminary results released after early August helicopter crash indicate equipment malfunction

    by Christine Bensen-Messinger, 8/16/2006

    Equipment malfunction seems to be what caused a helicopter that was being used to fight the Happy Camp Complex Fire to crash Aug. 4 shortly before 8 p.m., killing the two pilots on board.

    The Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, was utilizing the helicopter under contract as a public-use firefighting tool, the helicopter was registered to Heavy Lift Helicopters Inc. in Apple Valley, Calif., and the flight crew was employed by HLH, a National Transportation and Safety Board report released earlier this week stated.

    The airline transport pilot captain and co-pilot, Terry Wayne Jacobs, 48, of Woodford Heights and Andrei Pantchenko, 38, of Burns, Ore., both sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter was substantially damaged.

    The helicopter, which had been in use at Happy Camp since July 29, was stationed at the Happy Camp helibase, where it was maintained and dispatched.

    On the morning of the crash, the helicopter went through a series of maintenance and flight tests after having its number one engine replaced the night before. The helicopter was returned to service at 4:45 p.m. by the HLH mechanics and the USFS helicopter manager, the report stated.

    The helicopter was then dispatched to the Titus Fire, where it conducted a number of water drops. After a little more than two hours of flight, the helicopter returned to the helibase, where it was refueled with approximately 500 gallons and examined by maintenance personnel. The helicopter departed for a second cycle of water drops. The satellite tracking system that the USFS utilizes to provide real-time data on its flights indicated that the helicopter filled its water tanks at a dip site located in the Klamath River near the Independence Bridge.

    The helicopter conducted one uneventful dip and water drop during the second cycle and was in the process of conducting its second dip when the crash occurred.

    A witness located near the crash site reported that he observed the helicopter come in and out of the same dip site that day filling the helicopter

  2. #2
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    Copter wreckage to be pulled out of Klamath River

    Officials investigate crash that killed two in firefighting efforts.

    By Christine Vovakes -- Bee Correspondent

    Published 12:01 am PDT Tuesday, August 8, 2006

    HAPPY CAMP -- Officials plan to raise a mangled helicopter out of the Klamath River today as they continue to investigate the accident that claimed the life of the pilot and co-pilot Friday near the town of Happy Camp.

    The bodies of pilot Terry Wayne Jacobs, 48, of Wofford Heights, Kern County, and co- pilot Andrei Pantchenko, 38, of Burns, Ore., were recovered from the submerged wreckage Saturday, Siskiyou County sheriff's spokeswoman Susan Gravenkamp said. The two men, who crashed around 7:45 p.m. Friday, had been part of firefighting efforts in the Marble Mountain Wilderness.

    Results of the autopsies are expected today, said Gravenkamp.

    The pilots worked for Heavy Lift Helicopters Inc. of Apple Valley, a San Bernardino County company under contract with the U.S. Forest Service.

    Sheriff Lt. Jim Betts, operations commander during Saturday's recovery, said that either cranes or heavy-lift helicopters will be used to pull the Sikorsky CH-54 helicopter from the steep canyon. The wreckage will be taken to a National Transportation Safety Board site to be reconstructed in an attempt to determine what caused the accident.

    The river in that area -- about 10 miles southwest of Happy Camp along Highway 96 -- will remain closed to recreational use at least through today as divers continue to search the water.

    The aircraft came to rest on its side in a portion of the river that is 6 to 8 feet deep. Witnesses on the river tried to aid the pilots, but to no avail, Betts said.

    "There were people who could get up on the rig itself, but the wreckage was torn up and the pilots were pinned inside," he said. "About half the aircraft was submerged. The cockpit had partially torn away and was totally submerged."

    Jacobs got his pilot's license as a teenager in Goshen, Ind., his sister Sandra Santrock said in a phone interview Monday.

    Santrock, of Lexington, N.C., said her brother, a graduate of Purdue University, served two tours of duty in Vietnam, where he mainly flew medevac missions. "He loved to fly," she said.

    Later, when Jacobs wasn't flying helicopters for logging or firefighting, he spent his time outdoors as a general contractor. Several years ago he temporarily quit flying to care for his mother during her terminal illness, his sister said.

    Jacobs was engaged to Lucette Evans of Wofford Heights, Santrock said.

    No information was available about Pantchenko, whose family lives in Russia.

    Jacobs and Pantchenko's helicopter was one of three that had been scooping water from mountain lakes to dump it on the persistent string of wildfires that have been burning for two weeks.

    A series of thunderstorms in the far northern counties sparked numerous fires Sunday and Monday. Officials were worried that storms Monday night would result in more wildfires.



    http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache...&ct=clnk&cd=21

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    Pantchenko, Andrei

    Age: 38
    Cause of Death: Vehicle Collision
    Rank: Co-pilot
    Nature of Death: Trauma
    Classification: Wildland Contract
    Emergency Duty: Yes

    Incident Date: 08/04/2006
    Duty Type: On-Scene Fire
    Incident Time: 19:48
    Activity Type: Driving/Operating Vehicle/Apparatus
    Death Date: 08/04/2006
    Fixed Prop. Use: Outdoor Property

    Fire Dept. Info:
    U.S. Forest Service
    Klamath National Forest
    1312 Fairlane Road
    Yreka , California 96097-9549
    Chief: Forest Supervisor Peg Boland

    Initial Summary:
    Two pilots, on contract for the USFS from Heavy Lift Helicopters Inc. of Apple Valley, died after a long day battling the Titus Fire portion of the Happy Camp Complex of wildfires when for a cause still to be determined their helicopter suddenly crashed into the Klamath River.

    http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/applications...eath_year=2006

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    Jacobs, Terry Wayne

    Age: 48
    Cause of Death: Vehicle Collision
    Rank: Pilot
    Nature of Death: Trauma
    Classification: Wildland Contract
    Emergency Duty: Yes

    Incident Date: 08/04/2006
    Duty Type: On-Scene Fire
    Incident Time: 19:48
    Activity Type: Driving/Operating Vehicle/Apparatus
    Death Date: 08/04/2006
    Fixed Prop. Use: Outdoor Property

    Fire Dept. Info:
    U.S. Forest Service
    Klamath National Forest
    1312 Fairlane Road
    Yreka , California 96097-9549
    Chief: Forest Supervisor Peg Boland

    Initial Summary:
    Two pilots, on contract for the USFS from Heavy Lift Helicopters Inc. of Apple Valley, died after a long day battling the Titus Fire portion of the Happy Camp Complex of wildfires when for a cause still to be determined their helicopter suddenly crashed into the Klamath River.


    http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/applications...eath_year=2006

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    Copter on Idaho Wildfire Mission Crashes, Four Dead

    Updated: 08-14-2006 01:20:07 PM

    The Associated Press

    A helicopter on a wildfire mission crashed in the Payette National Forest, killing the pilot and all three forest workers aboard, authorities said.

    A firefighting team found the wreckage late Sunday afternoon, about a half hour after the helicopter went down on a forest road 100 miles northeast of Boise, forest spokesman Boyd Hartwig said.

    A fire engine crew was called to put out a small fire amid the wreckage, but all four people aboard the helicopter were dead, Hartwig said. He declined to release further details.

    The cause of the crash of the A-Star helicopter was under investigation.

    Fire crews have been working in the Payette National Forest to protect the cabin community of Yellow Pine from an 11-square-mile complex of fires. Bands of dry lightning sparked dozens of timber fires in the area over the past week and firefighters from other regions have been sent to help out.


    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=39&id=50696

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