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Incident Name:  positioning flight after fighting the Charlie Fire in the Murdoch Mountains
Date: 8/3/2000, 1645 hrs
Personnel: Phillip Arthur "Pip" Conner
Age: 29
Agency/Organization: Helicopter owned by ERA Aviation and operated by Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management
Position: wildland firefighter

Summary:  Firefighter Pip Conner was a passenger in a Bell Ranger helicopter that was preparing to return to base for the night after helping to fight the Charlie Fire. As the helicopter lifted off, it veered violently to the right and the rotor blades made contact with the ground. The helicopter came to rest back on its skids and the pilot shut the engine down. Firefighter Conner was severely injured and died that same day as the result of trauma. The other passenger and a crew member on the ground that came to their aid were injured. Firefighter Conner was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. The helmet of the front seat passenger saved his life; it deflected two strikes of the main rotor blade.

Photo from the Wildlabd Firefighter Foundation

Pip Conner Pip Conner


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Took off from Montello NV; location is in the Factual Report


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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA and research by the WLF Staff:
    • 8/3/2000
    • 1 killed: Phillip Conner
    • Operator: Bureau of Land Management
    • Type: Bell 206L-1
    • Location: Montello NV.
    • FAA Registration # N10864
    • NTSB # LAX00GA286
  • National Transportation Safety Board: Factual Report (104 K pdf)
  • National Transportation Safety Board: Probable Cause (html)   Probable Cause

    The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

    The loss of control in hovering flight and impact with terrain for undetermined reasons.
  • NTSB: Full Narrative (html)
  • Bell 206L-1

    Bell 206L-1 Bell 206L-1
  • For more information consult the NTSB online lookup Utility Use NTSB Identification: LAX00GA286

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Media Articles and Reports

  • Nevada firefighting helo crash kills one

    August 5, 2000 | Online article

    LV seasonal firefighter dies in helicopter crash
    A 1989 graduate of Chaparral High School is killed while working on a wildfire near Wells.

    A seasonal firefighter from Las Vegas was killed and three other people were injured when a firefighting helicopter crashed shortly after takeoff in eastern Nevada. Phillip Conner, 29, a member of a Helitack crew based at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, was killed.

    The Bell 206 Jet Ranger he was in had been carrying water and supplies at the 3,600-acre Charlie fire in Elko County when it took off about 7 p.m. Thursday to return to Wells for the night, fire spokesman Bill Roach said.
    It rolled after taking off and the main rotor hit the ground, officials said. The Interior Department's Office of Aviation Safety and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating.

    Conner, a lifetime Las Vegas resident, was the first firefighter to die while battling this latest spate of Western fires. It was the first wildland fire fatality in Nevada since 1986. (much more at the link)


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Photos, Videos, & Tributes


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Contributors to this article: RJM, Mellie

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