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Incident Name:  a fire near Laytonville CA
Date:  8/20/78, 1746 hours
Personnel:  James M Lippitt of Larkspur CA
Age:  29 years
Agency/Organization:  CDF (now CAL FIRE)
Position: pilot, aerial firefighter

Summary: There is limited information on crash location. According to the NTSB report the pilot was involved in "fire control". He departed in the Grumman TS2A (Tanker 95) from Ukiah CA with the destination of a fire near Laytonille CA and collided with trees on a low pass. Pilot Lippitt died.

 

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Maps

heading towards a fire near Laytonville CA

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Concise Information from NTSB, FAA, USFS, AAP, WLF Staff research:
    • Aug. 20, 1978, T-95
    • 1 killed: James Lippett
    • CDF (now CAL FIRE)
    • Type: Grumman TS-2A
    • Collision with trees between Ukiah and Laytonville, CA; LOCIF (Loss of Control in Flight), Suspected stall on final approach for drop.
    • FAA Registration #N448DF
    • NTSB # OAK78FVD54
  • National Transportation and Safety Board: Probable Cause (html)
    • Pilot-in-command - Misjudged distance, speed, and altitude
    • Pilot-in-command - failed to obtain/maintain flying speed
    • factors- Terrain - High Obstructions
  • For information on this incident visit the NTSB Query Utility : # OAK78FVD54
  • From the July 14, 1984 Santa Rosa Press Democrat article, page 2, about the death of another CAL FIRE airtanker pilot Ted Bell. It said this about the 1978 Lippitt fatality:
    The last airtanker crash in Mendocino County was also a S2F dropping retardant on a blaze near Laytonville in August 1978. The pilot James Lippitt, 29, of Larkspur, was killed. The fire was determined to have been caused by an arsonist, but the suspect was never tried because a judge ruled he confessed under pressure. Another pilot later testified Lippitt crashed because he approached the fire too slowly and too steeply.
  • California Death Index from familysearch.org: James Michael Lippitt

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

 

 

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Contributors to this article: FSR52011, Chris Anderson, RetFSFireCop

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