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Incident Name:
Date: 6/3/97
Personnel: 2 lives lost
Age: 
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
Position: 

Summary:

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.

 

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Maps

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.

 

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA and research by the WLF Staff:
    • 6/3/1997
    • 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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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

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