Date: 7/5/1976, 1005 hours
Personnel: 3 lives lost
Agency/Organization: Arizona Helicopters, Inc under contract with the Bureau of Land Management
Position: pilot and firefighting crew
James Lynn Davidson, pilot, age 26
Kenneth V Carvin, BLM
John Ivins, BLM
The Type III Bell helicopter departed the Base Heliport (2 1/2 mi SW of Carson City, NV) on July 5, 1976, 1005 hrs, on a BLM firefighter transport mission with four firefighters aboard. The passengers were to be off loaded at a mountain-top helispot to assist in controlling a forest fire located approximately one-half mile north of the landing site. The aircraft flew up canyon, made a left turn to gain height. As it approached the landing site, it hit a tree and spiraled into the ground. Only two of the four firefighters survived. The pilot and two firefighters died.
general area: Base Heliport 2 1/2 mi SW of Carson City, NV; unknown where actual accident site was. If you know, please let us know.
One unofficial map shows a ridge on Voltaire Canyon Rd. Lat/Lon: 39.123765, -119.791681. Does anyone know if this is correct? The site was about 1/2 mi N of wherever the heliport was located.
- Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA, AAP, USFS, LLC, WFF and research by the WLF Staff:
- 3 killed: James Lynn Davidson, pilot, age 26, & two firefighters
- Operator: Arizona Helicopters, Inc; under contract with BLM
- Type: BELL 206B
- Location: Carson City, NV.
- FAA Registration # N600SW
- NTSB # OAK76AP060
- National Transportation Safety Board: Probable Cause (html) and screencapture Probable Cause
- PROBABLE CAUSE(S)
- Pilot in command - Misjudged clearance
- Miscellaneous acts, conditions - Poorly planned approach
- PROBABLE CAUSE(S)
- For more information consult the NTSB online lookup Utility Use NTSB Identification: OAK76AP060
- Narrative from the IAAD Detailed Mishap Report (1.14 K pdf)
The Bell helicopter departed the Base Heliport (2 1/2miles SW of Carson City, NV), at approximately 1005 p.d.t. on July 5, 1976, on a BLM forest fire support mission with four passengers aboard. The passengers were to be off loaded at a mountain top helispot to assist in controlling a forest fire in progress approximately one-half mile north of the landing site.
This was the seventh flight of the day flown to the same location by the pilot. The aircraft flew up canyon and approached the helispot from below. Several witnesses including the Helitack Foreman located on the landing spot observed the aircraft. According to the foreman the helicoprer was slowing and beginning to turn toward the helispot. At this he thought he heard a noise like a muffled explosion. The aircraft went into very tight spiraling turn to pilot's left, spun 2 or 3 times and descended out of sight below the crest of the hill. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran to the wreckage site.
A second witness saw it fly up the canyon. The aircraft was low when it made a left turn to gain height to reach the landing zone. The rear part of the helicopter looked like it hit the top of a tree. This witness heard full power applied and saw the aircraft slide back into tree No. 2. It then slid sideways on the left side and nosed into the ground.
Another witness located on an adjacent hillside stated that the aircraft came up canyon and began a left turn to land. lt seemed to hesitate and appeared to drift backward for an instant then start a left, steep, nose-down spiraling turn into the ground.
The two surviving passengers were interviewed at the Carson Tahoe Hospital. The center rear seat passenger could only state that there was a sudden loss of altitude similar to a quick descent in an elevator. She also said that the pilot looked back at her and smiled after which he continued flying. Shortly after this the nose went down and there was a sudden loss of altitude. At no time throughout the descent to the point of ground contact did the pilot speak out. The remaining passenger could remember nothing except the scream of a girl and a feeling of falling.
- US Social Security Death Index: possibly James Davidson, has his age as 28 years (no middle initial)
- Nevada Fallen Firefighter Memorial: James L Davidson | Kenneth V Carvin | John Ivins
Contributors to this article:
Please support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation