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Incident Name:  Roberts Fire, east of Payson AZ
Date:  6/15/61
Personnel:  Charles "Chuck" Cochrane
Agency/Organization: the Marana Flying Service under contract with the US Forest Service
Position: Pilot

Summary: On June 15, 1061, Chuck Cochrane a pilot of an aerial tanker owned by the Marana flying service, died when his converted World War II torpedo bomber (Grumman TBM Avenger) developed engine trouble and plowed into a ridge. He had been dropping fire extinguishing solution on the 400 acre Roberts Fire east of Payson, AZ in the Mogollon Rim country.

TBM example for type of plane; photo credit: from Tom Janney's collection.



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The Roberts Fire was a different fire, but same general area Mogollon Rim area as the Hatchery Fire midair collision:

Hatchery... was 1/4 mi east of the old Horton Creek Rd, approximately 16 mi northeast of Prescott; the Hatchery fire was lightning caused, in the Dick Williams Creek area southeast of Tonto Fish Hatchery. A week and a half later it was reported to be only 400 acres.

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • US Forest Service Memorial page: Chuck Cochrane
  • No NTSB record could be found. Record keeping on the online NTSB lookout database began in 1962 and records are incomplete and/or spotty. Agencies generally kept their own records and did any investigation they felt necessary. That all changed with the Pressler Act in the 1970's.
  • The Associated Aerial Firefighters Memorial Page
  • Memorial at the old Payson Station (now a museum); location on the map below.

    Memorial to Chuck Cochrane and other firefighters Memorial to Chuck Cochrane and other firefighters

    “Dedicated to Firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our magnificent Mogollon Rim Country.”

    • Chuck Cochane TBM Air Tanker Pilot 6/15/61 Roberts Fire
  • Mention of loss of air tanker (pilot: Chuck Cochane) in last paragraph, and possible cause of the crash

    Mention of loss of Chuck Cochane in last paragraph Mention of loss of Chuck Cochane in last paragraph

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Media Articles and Reports.




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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

Memorial location in Payson, AZ

TBM silhouette:

TBM shape TBM shape

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Contributors to this article: Mike Johns, Tom Janney, John Miller, Mellie

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