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Incident Name: 100 acre Colville fire near Northport (near Canadian border), about 90 miles north northwest of Spokane, WA
Date: 7/29/1985
Personnel: 2 lives lost
Age:
Agency/Organization: Owner: Robert P. Schaefli, Moses Lake, WA, probably under contract with a federal agency (DOI), but unknown for sure. If you know, please let us know.
Position: aerial firefighters

Summary:

James E Dunlap, 53, of Port Orchard
Timothy J Trudell, 35, of Inchelium

The PBY water bomber - E49 - landed on the lake/river with dump doors partially open during the landing phase of water pickup run. Dunlap and Trudell in their amphibious plane sank in the water while gathering water to dump on the fire. They did not survive. Turbulent water hampered efforts to retrieve the plane which sat in 30 feet of water about 200 feet offshore.

 

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Maps

Northport, WA

 

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA, AAP and research by the WLF Staff:
    • 7/29/1985, 1538 hours, E49
    • 2 killed, James E Dunlap & Timothy J Trudell
    • Operator: Robert P. Schaefli, Moses Lake, WA
    • Type: Consolidated-Vultee PBY-6A
    • Location: Northport, WA
    • FAA Registration # N2886D
    • NTSB # SEA85FA182
  • National Transportation Safety Board: Factual Report (pdf)
  • National Transportation Safety Board: Probable Cause (html) NTSB Synopsis

    What happened: Mechanically operated dump door locks were applied before the dump doors were closed. The pilot controlled the dump doors from the pilot's control wheel; the co-pilot operated the door locks by a separate control, independent of the dump doors.

  • Probable cause(s):
    • Checklist not followed (pilot-in-command)
    • Chronic fatigue (pilot-in-command)
    • Improper use of equipment/aircraft (pilot-in-command)
    • Improper use of procedure Company/Operator Management
  • See the report for complete list of contributing factors (in-flight planning/decision, inadvertant; pressure; psychological condition)
  • For more information if it becomes available, consult the NTSB online lookup Utility Use NTSB Identification: SEA85FA182
  • Flight Safety Foundation (flightsafety.org): Flight Safety Digest, Vol 18, No. 4, April 1999, US Aerial Firefighting Accidents Involving Fixed Wing Aircraft 1976-1998 (218 K pdf)
  • Warbird Registry: E-49

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Wildlandfire.com Links:

 

 

 

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Media Articles and Reports

James Dunlap & Tim Trudell named as fallen James Dunlap & Tim Trudell named as fallen

 

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

 

 

 

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Contributors to this article: Mellie

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