Personnel: 2 lives lost
Agency/Organization: Safford Aviation, under an exclusive use contract to the Bureau of Indian Affairs; Ft Apache Indian Reservation and BIA Facility Mgt, Whiteriver, AZ
Jesse Gates, 31, pilot
Leo Stevens, 55, fire observer
Pilot Jesse Gates and Firefighter Leo Stevens were killed in the crash of a fire reconnaissance airplane on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Eastern Arizona. There were no eyewitnesses. A lookout tower reported black smoke near the Black River. Dispatch lost contact with the patrol plane at about the same time the smoke was reported. The plane had been on a routine fire reconnaissance flight.
near Coupon Tank; Black River Canyon, which is located in Apache County, Arizona.
Black River pump station near the accident site; 7 mi north of Point of Pines; more info in the report. The SEAT came to rest on a sandbar.
- Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA and research by the WLF Staff:
- 2 killed: Jesse Gates, pilot; Leo Stevens, observer
- Operator: Safford Aviation, under an exclusive use contract to the Bureau of Indian Affairs
- Type: Beech Baron 95-B55
- Location: Black River Canyon, which is located in Apache County, AZ
- FAA Registration # NN8KB
- NTSB # LAX97GA198
- National Transportation Safety Board: Factual Report (111 K pdf)
- National Transportation Safety Board: Probable Cause (html)
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain an adequate airspeed while maneuvering, which led to an inadvertent stall/spin.
- NTSB: Full Narrative (html)
- For more information consult the NTSB online lookup Utility Use NTSB Identification: LAX97GA198
- Flight Safety Foundation (flightsafety.org): Flight Safety Digest, Vol 18, No. 4, April 1999, US Aerial Firefighting Accidents Involving Fixed Wing Aircraft 1976-1998 (218 K pdf)
- Jesse's and Leo's names, death date and brief bio are included in the USFA Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study, published April 2002 (2,888 K pdf)
- US Social Security Death Index: Jesse D Gates | Leo A Stevens
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