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Incident Name:  taking off to drop on a grass and brush fire on Mt Baldy
Date:  July 13, 1984, 1610 hours
Personnel:  Ted Bell, Jr.
Age:  39
Agency/Organization:  Sis Q Flying Service under contract with CDF (now CAL FIRE)
Position: Pilot

Summary: On July 13, 1984 Ted Bell in Tanker 92, the twin engine Grumman S2F air tanker, crashed three minutes after take off from the Ukiah airport. He was en route to a grass and brush fire on Mt Baldy near Clearlake. He flew up a canyon east of Talmadge he could not clear -- energy management (loss of control in flight: LOCIF).  The airtanker was carrying 800 pounds of retardant and the temperature was 110 degrees which may have contributed to the crash.

 

CDF Captain Bob Burkett surveys the plane wreckage on Cow Mountain East of Ukiah. Photo Credit: Steve Hart CDF Captain Bob Burkett surveys the plane wreckage on Cow Mountain East of Ukiah. Photo Credit: Steve Hart


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Maps

Very General Accident Location: east side of Cow Mountain, just above Mill Creek County Park

 

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • July 14, 1984 Santa Rosa Press Democrat article:
7/14/84 Santa Rosa Press Democrat article, p.1 7/14/84 Santa Rosa Press Democrat article, p.1

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7/14/84 Santa Rosa Press Democrat article, p.2 7/14/84 Santa Rosa Press Democrat article, p.2

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  • Not in the NTSB Lookup Utiliy.
  • Note: Prior to 1996 NTSB did not investigate Gov-owned-and-operated, Gov-owned and contractor-operated or some aircraft that were privately-owned-and-operated as "public aircraft". Government agency investigations and reports were/are often hard to find and access. The "Pressler Act", passed in 1995 and enacted in 1996, changed that, making all aircraft accident reports easier to access and lessons easier to learn. (Click the link and search on "Pressler".)

 

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Wildlandfire.com Links:

  • Hotlist thread on the research: 8/26/11

 

 

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Media Articles and Reports.

 

 

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • I was a witness to the death of Ted Bell in July, 1984.  I was visiting the Ukiah airport where I had learned to fly in 1964, 1965.  I watched two S-2F air tankers take off and saw the plume of smoke at the head of the canyon behind Talmage shortly after the first tanker disappeared up the canyon.  I saw the second tanker pilot return to the airport empty, throw his helmet in the back of the plane and drive away from the airport.  I was told by the pilot of the lead plane that the second tanker dropped his load on the fire started by Bell's crash. This crash took place about six miles east of, and 1600 feet above the airport. Chuck Ross

 

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Contributors to this article: Chris Anderson, Chuck Ross

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