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Incident Name:  Fairbanks AK practice jump / refresher training
Date: 5/11/1966
Personnel: Arden Davis
Age: 24
Agency/Organization:  Bureau of Land Management
Position: Fairbanks Smokejumper

Summary: From the account of Smokejumper Cecil Hicks in the NSA booklet of fallen Smokejumpers:

On breezy May 11, 1966, returning jumpers were going through their first practice jump -- jumping 3-man sticks -- from a DC-3 at about 1500 feet, to land on the jump spot 100 yards wide by about 1/4 mi long at the University of Alaska Experimental Farm near Fairbanks. Arden was the third man out on the first 3-man stick. All three jumpers landed in the trees: birch, aspen, spruce around 30-35 feet tall. The first two smokejumpers were about 75 feet from each other; Arden had drifted and landed further away. After the two lowered themselves from trees with ropes and untangled their chutes from the trees, they went in search of Arden, assuming he'd had the same problems they'd had. They found him hanging with a shroud line caught under his helmet, his capewells popped. (Capewells are metal buckles that fasten the parachute to the harness.) Apparently while making a short letdown, Arden had failed to clear a shroud line from under his chin, which caused strangulation. His feet were only two feet off the ground. Attempts to revive him failed.

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University of Alaska Experimental Farm, Fairbanks, AK

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • NWCG: Strangulation during attempted letdown on practice jump. Incident can be found in the LLC Incident Review Database under 1966 and Alaska but no date, reports or documents are available.
  • US Social Security Death Index: Arden Davis

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Wildlandfire.com Links:

 

 

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Media Articles and Reports

  • Arden Davis, Jr's Obituary from the Cour d'Alene Press
    May 13, 1966

    Arden Davis, Jr was born at Sandpoint ID and was graduated from Thompson Falls, MT High School in 1960. He was graduated from U of Montana with a degree in Forestry in 1965. The victim's wife, Karen and two daughters Beckie, 5 and Jody Lynn 3, make their home in Cour d'Alene. His parents live at Thompson Falls where his father is superintendant of Pack River Lumber Co operations in western Montana. The body will be sent from Fairbanks to Schrider Funeral Home in Plains, MT.

  • Spokesman Review First Person Article, Jul 5, 2003-- National Smokejumper Association (Smokejumpers.com) Organization aims to preserve history -- by former Smokejumper Carl Gidlund who interviewed Smokejumpers and families of the fallen and compiled the stories told about fallen smokejumpers into a booklet. The article includes information about Arden Davis.

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

 

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Contributors to this article: Brett Rogers, Carl Gidlund, SJ Cecil Hicks account of the accident, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, RJM

 

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