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Incident Name:  Fork Fire, Angeles National Forest
Date: 9/28/1970
Personnel: 5 lives lost
Agency/Organization:  helicopter under contract with the USFS


Edward P. Henderson, 24, pilot
George Lopez, 35, USFS Helitack Foreman, Angeles National Forest
Steven Grammer, 19, USFS Redding Smokejumper
Ronald Scott, 28, USFS Redding Hotshot
William Wales, 22, USFS Redding Hotshot

In September 1970, two crewmembers of the Redding Interagency Hotshot Crew, Ronald Scott and William Wales, were killed while the crew was being ferried to the Fork Fire on the Angeles National Forest in Region Five. Ron and Bill, along with Pilot Ed Henderson, a Redding Smokejumper Steven Grammer, and George Lopez the helitack foreman from the ANF were all killed when the helicopter -- an Alouette II -- attempted a landing on a ridgetop helispot. The helicopter crashed and landed in the canyon 800 feet below.


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The old Rincon Ranger Station

Wreckage 800' below a ledge in a steep canyon -- Bichota Canyon, 2 mi NE of Rincon Ranger Station, ANF.

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA, AAP, USFS, LLC, WFF and research by the WLF Staff:
    • September 28, 1970
    • 5 killed: names of only 2 are known: Redding Hotshots - Ronald Scott, William Wales
    • Operator: unknown; under contract with the USFS
    • Type: A√©rospatiale ALOUETTE II
    • Location: departed from Rincon Ranger Station, Angeles National Forest
    • FAA Registration # N2355
    • NTSB # LAX71AL016
  • National Transportation Safety Board: Probable Cause (html)
    Pilot in Command - Inadequate preflight preparation and/or planning

    Miscellaneous acts, conditions - Improperly loaded aircraft, weight and/or C.G.

    Pilot in Command - Improper operation of powerplant & powerplant controls

    Pilot in Command - Improper operation of flight controls

    Powerplant - Turbine assembly: blade, turbine wheel

    Miscellaneous acts, conditions - Burned

    Remarks: Aircraft overloaded, compressor stall occurred, pilot had 30 min checkout in type aircraft, blood alcohol level .08 percent.

    Note that since 1970 there is substantial research that blood alcohol level production occurs post-mortem in fiery crashes. Report on Interpretation of Post-Mortem Alcohol in Autopsy (205 K pdf)

  • For more information consult the NTSB online lookup Utility Use NTSB Identification: LAX71AL016
  • USFS Heroes: Ronald Scott | William Wales | Steven Grammer | George Lopez | Ed Henderson
  • California Death Index: Ronald Scott | William J Wales | Steven R Grammer | George E. Lopez | Edward P Henderson

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Media Articles and Reports

Forks Helicopter Accident Forks Helicopter Accident
Forks Helicopter Accident Forks Helicopter Accident

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes


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Contributors to this article:  Ken Kempter, Mellie

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