Monday, June 04, 2012

Air Tanker down in Utah

Another Air Tanker has gone down, this one in Uath.

Air Tanker Crash Leaves Two Dead.

This one was a World War Two-vintage P2V Neptune

Originally designed as submarine hunter-killers, they were used from 1947 until they were replaced by the P-3 Orion in the 1960s.

This one had been converted for firefighting one it was surplussed out of military service, as have been many other 1940's airframes, including the A-26 Invader. Neptune Aviation, the operator, reportedly had ten of these in airworthy condition. Now they have eight. (Another one had to make a gear-up landing in Nevada this week-end.) No details yet, but it appears that it came apart in flight, much like Consolidated P4Y-2 tanker #123 did back in July of 2002.

Old planes, heavy loads and high-G maneuvering...not a good mix. Gotta wonder how long it'll be before the FAA or some other pencil-pusher grounds 'em all. Reportedly the A-26 type has already been grounded due to wing spar cracks found in some of the fleet, but it's likely only a matter of time before the rest of the old military heavy tankers get the same treatment.

RIP pilots Todd Neal Tompkins and Ronnie Edwin Chambless, both of Boise, Idaho. They died in true firefighter tradition, so that others might live.


  1. Graybull, WY airport has been a center for tanker conversion and operations for many years. Worth a stop at the airport if you like vintage airplanes. More than one Greybull pilot has died fighting fires. Red Avery comes to mind.