Incident Name: dropping on the 300-acre Humburg Fire on the Lassen NF, CA
Personnel: Harry B Owens, pilot
Agency/Organization: an Aero-Union Corp, Chico CA pilot under contract with the US Forest Service
Position: aerial firefighter
Summary: Three large airtankers were dropping on a small fire on the Lassen National Forest about 12 miles south of Chester CA under direction of a twin-engine US Forest Service "lead" plane, a Cessna 310; it was was guiding the tankers in for their retardant drops. The lead plane and Harry Owens' WW II converted TBM airtanker, Tanker E-28, collided. Conditions were smoky but visibility was about a mile. Pilot Harry Owens lost his life in the crash of the air tanker. The lead plane landed safely.
Photo of a TBM for airplane type, Credit: From Tom Janney's collection.
Photo Note from Tom: N9394H. This TBM was the first TBM ever tanked, owned by Hollywood flying legend Paul Mantz. Used as a test bed during the mid 50's Firescope program, this aircraft was lost in the incident that killed Bill Dreuhl in 1960.
IA fire on the Lassen NF, collision about 12 mi S of Chester CA
- Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA, AAP and research by the WLF Staff:
- 8/2/1972, 1515 hrs, E28
- 1 killed, Harry B Owens
- Operator: Aero Union Corp, Chico California
- Type: GRUMMAN TBM-3E
- Location: 12 mi S of Chester, CA
- FAA Registration # N9083Z
- NTSB # OAK74AP006
- National Transportation Safety Board: Probable Cause (html)
Type of Accident: Collision with aircraft: both in flight during the swath run phase of retardant delivery.
Probable Cause: Personnel - Miscellaneous-personnel: Pilot of other aircraft;
Factor(s) Weather - Obstructions to vision - smoke;
Remarks - 2nd air tanker in 3 ship trail formation led by spotter (lead plane). Drop run brief transmit to tankers prior to run.
- For more information consult the NTSB online lookup Utility Use NTSB Identification: OAK74AP006
Warbird Registry: TBM- 3E Avenger 53492
Bureau #: 53492
Construction #: 3554
Civil Registration(s): N9083Z
Last info: 1973
History: Riverside Aircraft Co, Riverside, CA, 1962-1964.
- Registered as N9083Z.
- Flew as tanker #E-63.
Aero Union Corp, Chico, CA, 1966-1972.
- Flew as tanker #E-28.
- Damaged during wheels up landing (repaired, Red Bluff, CA, Nov. 7, 1967.)
- Crashed and destroyed after colliding with USFS Cessna 310 during fire bombing run, near Chester, CA, Aug. 2, 1973.
- California Death Index: Harry B Owens
Harry Owens named as fallen:
Contributors to this article: Tom Janney, John Miller, Mellie
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