Incident Name: Betty Fire, Sequoia NF/Inyo NF, Mt Whitney Ranger District
Personnel: 3 lives lost
Agency/Organization: helicopter owned by Quality Helicopter Service from Van Nuys CA under contract with the US Forest service
Robert T Gilbreath, 35, pilot, owner
Harold L Barnes, 41, FS Fire Control Aid stationed at Kennedy Meadows
Samuel R. Ready, 31, with the Forest Service from the Sequoia National Forest
On 7/2/61 the G3B Bell Helicopter which was owned and piloted by Robert T. Gilbreath went missing while flying a lightning fire reconnaisance mission for the US Forest Service. (Crashed while returning to base due to no fuel.) Its wreckage was found the next day. No one on the helicopter survived.
Probable Betty Fire, 1961; possibly Cannell Meadow Road
- Forest Service: Betty Fire Report and announcement of the loss of the helicopter (1.76 MB pdf)
- Brief note in the Historical Wildland Firefighter Fatalities 1910-1996 (p 3) (616 K pdf)
- Year: 1961
- Location: Sequoia NF, CA, Cannell Mdw RD
- Fatalities: 3
- Agency: USFS
- Fire behavior: Unknown
- Notes: Helicopter crash (Bell 3-GB). Ship on reconaissance of fire, returned to base due to lack of fuel.
- No NTSB record could be found. Record keeping on the online NTSB lookout database began in 1962 and records are incomplete and/or spotty. Agencies generally kept their own records and did any investigation they felt necessary. That all changed with the Pressler Act in the 1970's.
- California Death Index: Robert Gilbreath | Harold Barnes | Samuel Ready
- Research: Theysaid 12/8/11
Contributors to this article: Maribel Moreno, Brent Skaggs, Steve Phillips, Rick Messier, and Nancy Marsh, the librarian in Bishop CA who looked up Sam Ready's name in the Inyo Register.
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