Incident Name: Hemlock Fire on the San Bernardino National Forest
Date: 7/6/97, about 1703 hours
Personnel: Floyd Dean Hiser, Sr from the Sierra National Forest
Agency/Organization: Rogers Helicopters, Inc, Fresno; under contract to the Forest Service
Summary: The pilot, Floyd Hiser, was about to drop water on the Hemlock Fire on the San Bernardino National Forest when the engine failed for undetermined reasons. The helicopter was in autorotative flight when it struck a slope. Floyd was fatally injured.
"...0.3 mile west of the fire in Little Sand Canyon at 34 degrees 09 minutes
29 seconds north latitude and 117 degrees 13 minutes 26 seconds west longitude"
General Incident Location
- Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA, AAP, USFS, WFF and research by the WLF Staff:
- July 6, 1997, H-520
- 1 killed: Floyd Hiser
- Operator: unknown; under contract with the US Forest Service
- Type: Bell BHT-206L1
- Location: San Bernardino mountains north of Highland, California.
- FAA Registration # N27591
- NTSB # LAX97GA235
- National Transportation Safety Board: Factual Report (pdf)
- National Transportation Safety Board: Probable Cause (html)
Loss of engine power due to fuel contamination. Also causal was the ingestion of entrapped air that occurred during an abrupt maneuver and fuel-borne contamination that caused the fuel system check valves to leak, resulted in a lower than expected fuel level in the main fuel cell. A related factor was mountainous terrain.
- NTSB: Full Narrative (html)
- For more information consult the NTSB online lookup Utility Use NTSB Identification: LAX97GA235
- Forest Service Investigations - Fatal Aviation Accident History (1974-2002): Pages 76-78 for this incident (401 K pdf) | Entire History (download 4.72 MB pdf)
- Flight Safety Foundation (flightsafety.org): Flight Safety Digest, Vol 25, No. 6, Nov-Dec 1999, Rotor Wing Accidents 1974-1998 (102 K pdf)
- Floyd Hiser's name, death date and brief bio are included in the USFA Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study, published April 2002 (2,888 K pdf)
- Crash Kills Copter Pilot In California Wildfire
7/7/1997 | Online Article
A water-dropping helicopter crashed last night in fighting a 2,411-acre wildfire in the San Berndardino National Forest, killing the pilot and prompting fire officials to suspend air support pending a rescue-and-search operation.Although the United States Forest Service could not confirm the death, an official with the Federal Aviation Administration said the pilot had died. Only the pilot was aboard when the helicopter crashed in a remote area... (more at the link)
- Copter Pilot Dies While Fighting Fire; Aircraft Grounded
7/7/1997 | Online Article
A helicopter pilot fighting a blaze in the mountains of the San Bernardino National Forest was killed Sunday when his water-dropping chopper crashed, authorities said. The Bell 206 helicopter, one of six helicopters and 10 air tankers fighting the blaze near Hemlock, went down about 4:45 p.m., said Bruce Nelson, operations manager for the Federal Aviation Administration... (more at the link)
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