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Incident Name:  fire near Truckee, CA
Date:  June 25, 1964, 1434 hrs
Personnel:  Lewis Leach
Age:  43
Agency/Organization:  Cal-Nat Airways Ltd/Dick Gordon, Santa Rosa, CA, 1963-1964 under contract with CDF (now CAL FIRE)
Position:  Pilot

Summary: On June 25, 1964, Lewis Leech  was piloting Tanker E-43, a Grummon F7F, flying out of the Ukiah Airport to a fire near Truckee, CA. He had dropped retardant over a fire near Truckee when he apparently flew too low and hit trees. Lewis Leach died when his plane impacted the ground, creating a ground fire. Although NTSB states that alcohol was found, it's likely from research we know today that the alcohol was the product postmortum of the firey crash. Lewis' family and friends reported he did not drink alcohol.

Photo of another F7F Tigercat for type of aircraft, compliments of Leroy Zwicky.

Tanker E-31, Grummon F7F Tanker E-31, Grummon F7F

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approximate location near Truckee CA


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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Santa Rosa Press Democrat article? or since near Truckee, perhaps a Sacramento paper.
  • Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA, AAP, and research by the WLF Staff:
    • June 25, 1964 - Tanker 43
    • 1 killed: Lewis Leach
    • Cal-Nat Airways Ltd/Dick Gordon, Santa Rosa, CA, 1963-1964 under contract with CDF (now CAL FIRE)
    • Grumman F7F-3
    • collided with trees near Truckee, CA
    • FAA Registration tail number: N7619C
  • NTSB: Probable Cause (html)
    • Probable Cause(s)

      Pilot in Command - Misjudged clearance

    • Factor(s)

      Miscellaneous Acts, conditions - Alcoholic impairment of efficiency and judgment

      Fire after impact

  • For more information, in case it becomes available, consult the NTSB online lookup utility, Use FAA Registration N7619C
  • From Mellie: Note that since 1970 there is substantial research that blood alcohol level production occurs post-mortem in fiery crashes. Report on Interpretation of Post-Mortem Alcohol in Autopsy (205 K pdf)
  • California Death Index: Louis Leach
  • From a contributor: According to the Warbird Registry, the Grumman F7F Tigercat flown as N7619C Tanker 43 crashed in 1964. The registry has is a color photo and more information. History: Cal-Nat Airways Ltd/Dick Gordon, Santa Rosa, CA, 1963-1964; Registered as N7619C; Flew as tanker #E-43; Crashed and destroyed, near Truckee, CA, Jun 25, 1964.

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      Media Articles and Reports.


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      Photos, Videos, & Tributes


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      Contributors to this article: Mellie, Tom Janney, FedFire, Leroy Zwicky for the F7F photo demonstrating type of aircraft.

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