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Incident Name:  Twin Peaks Fire, NE of Fallon NV
Date: 8/13/2000
Personnel: Lester Lee Shadrick
Age: 53
Agency/Organization: ERA Aviation under contract with BLM
Position: IFR Captain / Aerial firefighter

Summary: IFR Captain Shadrick was working the Twin Peaks fire northeast of Fallon, Nevada. He was piloting a Bell 412 helicopter and was the lead chopper in a flight of two helicopters preparing to make a water drop on a fire-involved ridgeline. The helicopter was carrying a bambi bucket suspended below the aircraft. As IFR Captain Shadrick approached the ridgeline, his aircraft made a sudden 90-degree left (descending) turn and impacted the mountainous terrain. No radio communication was received from his helicopter after the turn and before the crash. IFR Captain Shadrick was killed instantly.

 

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Maps

Twin Peaks fire northeast of Fallon, NV; estimated location of primary wreckage

 

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA, AAP and research by the WLF Staff:
    • 8/13/2000
    • 1 killed: Lester Shadrick
    • Operator: ERA Aviation under contract with BLM
    • Type: Bell 412
    • Location: northeast of Fallon, NV
    • FAA Registration # N174EH
    • NTSB # LAX00GA297
  • National Transportation Safety Board: Factual Report (140 K pdf)
  • National Transportation Safety Board: Probable Cause (html)

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

    failure of the compressor turbine disc due to cyclic fatigue brought about by repeated operation near or above the engines' temperature/power limits by company personnel over an extended period of time. Factors in the accident were:
  • 1) the high density altitude, mountainous terrain, and the helicopter's resulting marginal single engine performance capability;
  • 2) the design, fabrication, and installation of the emergency external load release system, which had the power supply wired to the nonessential bus that would automatically drop offline during an engine or generator failure; and
  • 3) the pilot's resulting inability to electrically release the water load, bucket, or line while dealing with the engine failure.
  • NTSB: Full Narrative (html)
  • For more information consult the NTSB online lookup Utility Use NTSB Identification: LAX00GA297

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