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Incident Name:  Hubbard Creek Fire, Okanogan National Forest, WA
Date: 8/9/85
Personnel: Joe Coke
Agency/Organization: private helicopter under contract with the US Forest Service
Position: helicopter pilot

Summary: On August 9, 1985, Joe Coke, pilot of an Alouette III helicopter (H-624) on the Hubbard Creek Fire was delivering cargo to the fireline utilizing his long line when he experienced mechanical problems. He attempted to return to the smokejumper base, but crashed into the Wolf Creek drainage, losing his life. (from the Methow Valley Memorial Brochure)

Print image of the memorial sculpture from the Methow Valley Memorial Dedication Brochure, 2007

Art from the Methow Valley Memorial Brochure, 2007 Art from the Methow Valley Memorial Brochure, 2007

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Wolf Creek drainage, Okanogan National Forest, just west of Winthrope, Washington

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Information from USFS, AAP, WLF community research:
    • August 9, 1085, H-624
    • 1 killed: Joseph Coke
    • Operator: private company unknown
    • Type: Aerospatiale Alouette III
    • crashed into the Wolf Creek drainage, just west of Winthrop, WA
    • FAA Tail #SA316B
    • NTSB # no record
  • Flight Safety Foundation ( Flight Safety Digest, Vol 25, No. 6, December 1999, External Loads, Powerplant Problems and Obstacles Challenge Pilots During Aerial Firefighting Operations: US accident reports from 1974-1998 (102 K pdf)
  • USFS: Fatal Aviation Accident History 2 page Excerpt, pages 54 & 55 (134 K pdf) | 112 page Full Report (all accidents: 4,017 K pdf)
The investigation team believed the probable cause of this mishap was an engine failure. It was also deemed probable the pilot was flying too fast with an unweighted cable (50' long line with a hook on the end) at the time of engine failure and the subsequent maneuvering caused the cable entanglement with the rotor systems. The loss of the tail rotor system may have contributed to the severity of the mishap.

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  • Theysaid: 9/14/06, raising money for the memorial

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Media Articles and Reports

Joe Coke named as fallen Joe Coke named as fallen

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • Methow Valley Wildland Firefighter Memorial, dedicated Nov 27, 2007: Brochure (690 K pdf)
  • Online Article: Firefighting Memorial Dedication is Nov. 27 in Winthrop (no longer online)
  • Memorial located in Mac Lloyd Park in Winthrop, WA.

    Memorial Location: From Hwy 20 at milepost 191.5, in the town of Winthrop, turn left (west) into the municipal parking lot at the big Red Barn (If anyone knows the lat/lon, please let us know.)

Rt 20 at Winthrop, WA

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Contributors to this article: Tom Leuschen, Wildland Firefighter Foundation, John Miller


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