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Incident Name: Norton Creek Fire started after the crash in a valley along an arm of Norton Creek.
Date: July 9, 1965, 1545 hours
Personnel: 2 lives lost
Agency/Organization: Johnson Flying Service, flying out of McCall, Idaho

Byron H "Skip Knapp, III, 31 years, pilot
Ken "Moose" Salyer, smokejumper & spotter

On July 9, 1965, "the Beech", a twin-engine smokejumper plane, had just delivered a load of four jumpers, and on a followup pass, a load of cargo -- their firefighting tools. The jumpers were initial attacking a fire in a saddle on a ridgetop. Winds had been swirly and gusty on their jumps. The jumpers were awaiting the second load of cargo when they heard a "wump" and saw a smoke column rise out of a nearby valley along Norton Creek. NTSB said the accident was a stall/spin that occurred in irregular windy conditions following a low pass. Neither man survived.

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Norton Creek Accident, best possible estimate

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • From NWCG Fire Fatality Record: Historical Wildland Firefighter Fatalities 1910 - 1996

    Date: 1965
    Fire Name / Location: McCall, ID
    2 fatality
    Agency: US Forest Service
    Fire behavior observed: Unknown
    Remarks: A jump plane crashed with spotter and pilot aboard. Occurred on a paracargo run after jumpers were dropped.

  • Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA, USFS, LLC, WFF and research by the WLF Staff:
    • 7/9/65, "The Beech"
    • 2 killed: Skip Knapp and Ken "Moose" Salyer
    • Operator: Johnson Flying Service under contract with the Forest Service
    • Type: BEECH C-45H
    • Location: Near Salmon, Idaho
    • FAA Registration # N9327Z
    • NTSB # SEA66A0003
  • National Transportation Safety Board: example Probable Cause

    Pilot in command - failed to obtain / maintain flying speed

    Weather - downdraft, updraftsweather - Unfavorable wind conditions

    Misc - Inherent high risk flight operation

  • NTSB brief:

    NTSB brief NTSB brief

  • To see if there's more information, consult the NTSB online lookup Utility Use NTSB Identification: SEA66A0003
  • Remembering The Norton Creek Disaster And The Deaths Of Two Friends

    by Gary M. Watts (McCall ’64) | July 2012, Smokejumper Magazine

    I am sitting here, in my home in Southern California, poring over a map. The map is a product of the United States Department of Interior Geological Survey. It is a 7.5-minute (topological) titled “Pungo Mountain, Idaho.”

    In the southwest corner of the map, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River snakes roughly from southwest to northeast. Situated on a bluff north of and overlooking the river is Indian Creek Landing Field. The runway runs east to west, is about 5,000 feet long and lies at about 4,700 feet elevation. At the western end of the runway, several buildings make up the Indian Creek Guard Station.

    About 200 yards north of the center of the runway, there is a grave marked on the map. I helped dig that grave.

    But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

    Day One

    The story begins... Excellent account, go read the story...

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Media Articles and Reports

Skip Knapp and Moose Salyer named as fallen

Skip Knapp and Moose Salyer Skip Knapp and Moose Salyer


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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

Memorial at McCall, ID Jumper Base

Skip Knapp and Moose Salyer Skip Knapp and Moose Salyer
Skip Knapp and Moose Salyer Skip Knapp and Moose Salyer

McCall Memorial, ID: Memorialized there are the following smokejumpers and pilots. Smokejumpers Roger Roth and Jim Thrash died at Storm King, 7/6/94. Pilots Marvin "Whitey" Hachmeister and John Slingerland died on the Selway River, 6/11/79. SJ Keith Moose Salyer and Pilot Byron Skip Knapp died on the Norton Creek Fire, 7/9/65. SJ Lester Lycklama died on the Fall Creek Ridge Fire, 7/3/46.

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Contributors to this article: Gary Watts, Brett Rogers, Carl Gidlund, John Miller

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