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Incident Name:
Date: 9/4/1971
Personnel: Richard L Ranck
Age: 40
Agency/Organization: Hemet Valley Flying Service, Hemet, CA under contract with CDF (now CAL FIRE)
Position: aerial firefighter

Summary: On 9/4/1971, pilot Richard Ranck was dropping Firetrol retardant on fire near Placervlle, when the TBM air tanker -- Tanker 37 --  collided with trees and crashed. Richard Ranck did not survive.

TBM photo for type (not the Ranck AT)... Photo credit: From Tom Janney's collection. (formerly Tom Stein)


Photo note from Tom: This representative TBM (Registration #N9394H) 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 1960 incident that killed Bill Druehl.


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Placerville Air Base, CA

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA, AAP and research by the WLF Staff:
    • 9/4/1971, 1638 hrs, Tanker 37
    • 1 killed, Richard Ranck
    • Operator: Hemet Valley Flying Service, Hemet, CA
    • Type: GRUMMAN TBM 3E
    • Location: near Placerville, CA
    • FAA Registration # N6825C
    • NTSB # OAK72FVG22
  • NTSB: Probable Cause (html)

    Type of accident: Collided with trees

    Phase of operation: In flight: swath run

    Probable Cause: Pilot-in-command: misjudged altitude

    Remarks: Spraying Firetrol

  • National Transportation Safety Board: Feel free to consult the NTSB online lookup Utility. Use NTSB # OAK72FVG22
  • California Death Index: Richard L Ranck Death location says ElDorado County, consistent with Placerville area.
  • US Social Security Death Index: Richard Ranck

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Media Articles and Reports

  • YouTube: Placerville Air Base 1971 from Greg Liddicoat

    Placerville, CA Air Tanker Base, 9-4-1971 This movie was converted from Super 8 film. It shows aircraft reloading activity at the Placerville Airtanker base on 9/4/71 and includes the tragic crash of Tanker 37.

TBM E-37 TBM E-37


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Photos, Videos, & Tributes


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Contributors to this article: Tom Janney, Greg Liddicoat, Kevin OMeara, Mellie

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