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Incident Name:  Wynoochee Fire on the Olympic National Forest, WA
Date: September 30, 1990, 1359 hrs
Personnel: 2 lives lost
Agency/Organization: Black Hills Aviation, Alamogordo, NM under contract with US Forest Service
Position pilot and co-pilot


Ralph Glasgow, 44
Stephen Bovey, 51

On September 30, 1990, Tanker 08, a P2V, was dropping retardant on the  Wynoochee Fire in steep terrain. The airtanker crew extended the flaps which is normal procedure and extended the landing gear to prevent airspeed from increasing while descending into the canyon. During the pull-up from the drop, the airtanker collided with terrain. Ralph Glasgow and Steve Bovey were fatally injured.


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along the east side of Wynoochee Lake, near the dam; Wynoochee Fire on the Olympic National Forest, WA; 60 mi west of Seattle, WA

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA, AAP, and research by the WLF Staff:
    • September 30, 1990, Tanker 08
    • 2 killed: Ralph Glasgow, Stephen Bovey
    • Operator: Black Hills Aviation, Alamogordo, NM
    • Type: Lockheed P-2V-7 Neptune
    • Location: Olympic National Forest, WA
    • FAA Registration # unknown
    • NTSB # none
  • National Transportation Safety Board did not investigate this accident; NTSB online lookup Utility.
  • USFS investigated: Fatal Aviation Accident History 2 page Excerpt, pp 19-20 (308 K pdf)| 112 page Full Report (all accidents: 4,017 K pdf)
    The probable cause of this mishap was that the pilot maneuvered the airtanker in a manner that he was extremely low and slow, with landing gear and flaps extended, and did not use additional jet engine thrust available to clear the ridge. The pilot had misjudged the short steep canyon and was not able to recover sufficient airspeed to exit the drop pattern safely. The pilot had dropped one half of their retardant on the target and did not jettison the other half of the load to avoid hitting the ridge.
  • P2V Tanker 08 from the 2 page excerpt (p20) Photo credit Dailey World.

    Tanker 08 accident Tanker 08 accident
  • Flight Safety Foundation ( Flight Safety Digest, Vol 18, No. 4, April 1999, US Aerial Firefighting Accidents Involving Fixed Wing Aircraft 1976-1998 (218 K pdf)
  • AAP Aviation Heroes under 1990: Ralph Glasgow | Stephen Bovey
  • Forest Service Heroes Memorial (under US Forest Service Aviation Contractors; scroll down): Ralph Glasgow | Stephen Bovey
  • Ralph's and Stephen's names and death date are included in the USFA Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study, published April 2002 (2,888 K pdf)
  • USFA Memorial Database: Ralph Glasgow | Stephen Bovey
  • 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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Media Articles and Reports

  • Ralph Glasgow & Steven Bovey named as lost:
Ralph Glasgow and Steven Bovey named as lost Ralph Glasgow and Steven Bovey named as lost


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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • This is one of nine P2V airtanker crashes that occurred while firefighting between 1987 and 2012.

P2V Airtanker for type of airtanker, dropping on CA fire. Photo credit Mike Meadows.

P2V Airtanker P2V Airtanker


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Contributors to this article: Tom Janey, aviation historian, Mike Meadows

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