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Incident Name: ferrying from Missoula to reposition to to Alamogordo, NM, to be available for the Four Mile Fire in Chaves Co, NM.
Date: 04/25/09, 1000 hrs
Personnel: 3 Lives Lost (see below)
Age: Varies
Agency/Organization: Neptune Aviation, under operational control of the state of NM at the time of the accident
Position: aerial firefighters

Summary:
Thomas Lowell Risk, 66 years; Pilot of Littleton CA
Michael Wayne Flynn, 59 years; Copilot of Almagordo NM
Brian Joseph Buss, 32 years; Crew Chief of Alberton MT

Neptune Aviation Services received a resource order to relocate Tanker 42 from its base in Missoula, MT, to Alamogordo, NM, to assist with wildland firefighting operations. Tanker 42 was a 1962 Lockheed P2V-7 Neptune aircraft. The aircraft departed Missoula at 0803 hours. According to the NTSB report, the aircraft appeared to be negotiating around some weather systems as it flew over Utah. The aircraft crashed into a slope at an elevation of approximately 5,600 feet. Aircraft debris was scattered in a trail approximately 500 feet long. Incident location was east of Stockton, UT, in the Oquirrh Mountains, Toole County. All three firefighters were killed in the crash.

Tom Risk Tom Risk
Mike Flynn with Tanker 44 Mike Flynn with Tanker 44
Brian Buss Brian Buss

P2V Airtanker for type of airtanker.

P2V Airtanker, T-44 P2V Airtanker, T-44
P2V Airtanker, T-44 P2V Airtanker, T-44

 

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Maps

Accident Location; ; crashed in Toole County, UT east of Stockton UT (USNG: 11T QM 2256 9978)

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Information from NTSB, FAA, USFS, AAP, WLF Staff research:
    • April 25, 2009 - Tanker 42
    • 3 killed: Tom Risk, Mike Flynn, Brian Buss
    • Operator: Neptune Aviatio, Missoula, NT
    • Type: Lockheed P2V-7
    • crashed east of Stockton UT, assigned to Four Mile Fire
    • FAA Registration #N442NA
    • NTSB # WPR09GA216
  • Prelimemary Report from the US Forest Service: 24 HR Report (119 K pdf)
  • Tooele County UT: Press Release (58 K pdf)
  • National Transportation Safety Board: Factual Report (115 K pdf)
  • National Transportation Safety Board: Probable Cause (html) |  Probable Cause (25 K pdf)
  • NTSB: Full Narrative (html)
  • Selections from AAR for the Tanker 42 Crash: Power Point (2.3 MB)
  • USFA Database: Tom Risk | Mike Flynn | Brian Buss
  • For more information on this crash visit the NTSB Lookup Utility: # WPR09GA216

Statement From SWCC: Statement Regarding the Crash of an Air Tanker Assigned to the 4 Mile Fire
New Mexico State Forester Releases Statement on the Crash of Air Tanker Bound for NM

Santa Fe - New Mexico State Forester Arthur "Butch" Blazer expressed his condolences today to the families of an air-tanker crew bound to southeastern New Mexico to fight the 4 Mile Fire. The Idaho-based tanker crashed while flying over Utah, en route to Alamogordo.

"My sympathies as well as the condolences of the entire State Forestry Division and every New Mexican go out to the families whose loved ones were lost in the line of duty today," said Blazer. "While we must pause to mourn their loss, within the wildland fire community we must also honor them by continuing to fight fires to protect our communities."

The 4 Mile Fire is currently burning on private land and land managed by the US Bureau of Land Management.

"The New Mexico Bureau of Land Management sends our sincerest condolences to the flight crew of the air tanker and their families," said Bureau of Land Management Fire Mitigation and Education Specialist Jennifer Myslivy. "The fire aviation community lost good people and a valuable resource today and they will be missed."

The investigation is being handled by the Tooele County Utah Sheriff's Office. Media are instructed to call for more information regarding the crash.

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Wildlandfire.com Links:

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Media Articles and Reports.

  • Press Release from Tooele County Utah: April 25, 2009 (57K pdf)
  • Plane crash in Tooele County kills 3

    4/29/2009 | Online Article with Video and eyewitness reports

  • Firefighting Plane Crashes in Utah; Crew of 3 Die

    4/26/2009 |The Associated Press (Originally from ABC.com)

    By PAUL FOY, Associated Press Writer

    A converted military plane crashed Saturday in heavy fog in the mountains that frame the Salt Lake valley, killing three members of a private firefighting company, authorities said. Members of the Tooele County Shereff's Office and Search and Rescue personnel, examine the wreckage of a plane crash near Stockton, Utah, Saturday, April 25, 2009. A converted twin-engine military plane crashed in heavy fog in the Oquirrh mountains, killing three people, the Tooele County sheriff said Saturday.

    Tooele County Sheriff Frank Park said the plane was en route from Missoula, Mont., to Alamogordo, N.M., when it failed to clear a pass in the Oquirrh Mountains. The crew members for Missoula-based Neptune Aviation were bound for southern New Mexico to help fight a nearly 30-square-mile wildfire, said Dan Ware, a spokesman for the New Mexico Forestry Division. "While we must pause to mourn their loss, within the wildland community we must also honor them by continuing to fight fires to protect our communities," state forester Arthur Blazer said.

    The wildfire, which was 20 percent contained, was threatening a home and several outbuildings and a power distribution line, officials said. The sheriff identified the pilot as Tom Risk, 66, of Littleton, Colo., and the crew members as Mike Flynn, 59, of Alamogordo, N. M., and Brian Buss, 32, of Alberton, Mont. Neptune's ground safety and security coordinator, Miek Pfau, said he could confirm only that the company lost an aircraft.

    The wreckage of the plane, a twin-propeller P2V Neptune with a 100-foot wing span, was located near Stockton Pass, spread out over about 100 yards, Park said. Search and rescue crews reached the steep, rugged site on foot and all-terrain vehicles to recover the bodies. They were turned over to the state medical examiner, he said. Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration were at the crash site Saturday, and officials with the National Transportation Safety Board planned to arrive Sunday, the sheriff said.

    Park said the Neptune, a plane developed during the Korean war that is commonly used to fight wildfires, had been equipped for dropping fire retardant. He said visibility was only 100 feet when the plane failed to clear Stockton Pass. It missed the pass by an eighth of a mile and slammed into a mountain instead, but should have been flying higher, he said.

    The plane was being tracked by the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, which lost track of it before the pilot could report any trouble or issue a distress signal, the sheriff said.

    Associated Press writer Heather Clark in Albuquerque contributed to this report; Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

  • Air Tanker 42 a P2V Neptune goes down in Utah

    Posted in: Air, Disaster, Operations, PIO Issues, Safety, Weather, Wildland Fire

    4/26/2009 | From Fireground Communications: Link to Online Article

    The P2V Neptune went down in Utah, near Stockton Pass, with heavy fog reported along the route. The aircraft was enroute from Missoula, MT, to Alamogordo, NM, on Saturday morning and discovered at 1300 local time in the Oquirrh mountains.

    No distress call or other associated reports were received from the aircraft prior to its impact. Some reports indicate that the aircraft failed to negotiate its way through the pass and was found an eighth of a mile from its crest. The debris path was reported as being nearly 500 feet long.

    The Tooele County Sheriffs office has released the names of the crew. Confirmed as deceased are Pilot Tom Risk, 66, from Littleton, CO, along with crew members Mike Flynn, 59, from Alamogordo, NM, and Brian Buss, 32, from Alberton, MT. All three were employed by Neptune Aviation of Missoula, MT.

    The plane was being tracked by the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, which lost track of it before the pilot could report any trouble or issue a distress signal, the sheriff said. “The fire aviation community lost good people and a valuable resource today and they will be missed,” said Jennifer Myslivy, a New Mexico-based fire mitigation and education specialist for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

    The three were crew members for Neptune Aviation, of Missoula, Mont., and were bound for southern New Mexico to help fight a 19,000-acre wildfire, said Dan Ware, a spokesman for the New Mexico Forestry Division. No one reported seeing the crash, though it was heard said Tooele County Sheriff Frank Park. Tooele County search and rescue began trying to find the plane Saturday morning, but were initially hampered by the weather.

    Clouds were completely encompassing the area,” Park said. “You couldn’t see anything.” About 1 p.m., fog and clouds lifted. A searcher on one of the Oquirrh Mountain peaks above Stockton almost walked upon the crash, Park said. As the clouds continued to lift, the wreckage became more visible to onlookers along State Road 36. It stretched down almost all of one side of the peak. The fuselage could be seen at the top of the peak. Wheels and pieces of wings were scattered down the side.

  • From Neptune's Website: Neptune Aviation mourns the loss of the crew of Tanker 42 on April 25, 2009. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Tom Risk, Mike Flynn and Brian Buss. We are currently taking care of the needs of the families and employees thank you for your kind support.

    By afternoon, residents with binoculars and telescopes stood along the road looking at the crash and watching the recovery effort. Investigators for the Federal Aviation Administration were at the crash site Saturday, and officials for the National Traffic Safety Board planned to arrive Sunday.

    Neptune Aviation’s website reports that it “operates two models of the P2V: the P2V-5 and the P2V-7. The Neptune P2V was designed as a maritime patrol and antisubmarine warfare aircraft. This dictated extreme endurance and range, as well as defensive and good short-field capabilities. Its design featured high-aspect ratio wings, a large fuel load, an internal weapons bay and powerful engines –a combination which enabled the Neptune to set a world distance record of 11,235 miles, by flying nonstop from Perth, Australia to Columbus, Ohio USA. This record stood unbeaten until Dick Rutan and Jeanne Yeager circled the globe in Voyager…

    We fight fire with ten Lockheed P2V aircraft rebuilt and fitted with a maximum fire retardant capacity of 2,700 gallons with six door retardant dispensing tanks. Our impeccably maintained aircraft allows our customers to have a useful firefighting tool while we transition into a modern platform for the future.

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

 

Crash Site, Photo Credit AP Crash Site, Photo Credit AP
Crash Site, Photo Credit AP Crash Site, Photo Credit AP

 

Memorial Plaque for Crew Memorial Plaque for Crew
Plaque: In Memory of the Crew of Tanker 42 Plaque: In Memory of the Crew of Tanker 42
Memorial Garden for Tanker 42 in Missoula, MT Memorial Garden for Tanker 42 in Missoula, MT
Memorial Sculpture in Missoula, MT Memorial Sculpture in Missoula, MT

 

                                                                                

   

P2V Airtanker for type of airtanker. Photo credit Mike Meadows:

P2V Airtanker P2V Airtanker

 

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Contributors to this article: Marilynn Flynn, J Benshoof, Mellie, Steve Lutz

Note from Always Remember: Our thanks to Marilynn Flynn for the banner artwork for this website. She is a pleasure to work with in creating the image for the "vision". We heartily recommend her for any design work.

 

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