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Incident Name: assigned to the Dog Rock Fire burning near near El Portal, Yosemite National Park
Date: 10/7/2014, 1626 hrs
Personnel: Geoffrey “Craig” Hunt
Age: 62
Agency/Organization: Dyncorp International under contract with CAL FIRE
Position: aerial firefighter, pilot

Summary: On Tuesday afternoon, 10/7/2014, a S-2T airtanker assigned to the Dog Fire near Yosemite National Park went down, killing the pilot, Geoffrey “Craig” Hunt. While performing fire fighting duties, CAL FIRE aircraft, Tanker 81, impacted rugged terrain after its left wing tip struck a tree. As we konw more official information we'll post t here or watch the Wildlandfire Hotlist for the most current information.

From Craig Hunt's Memorial Page, photo provided by his family

Craig Hunt standing on top of Tanker 81 Craig Hunt standing on top of Tanker 81

From the CAL FIRE Twitter feed; photo credit Craig Rose

Tanker 81 on Loma Fire Tanker 81 on Loma Fire

 

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Maps

Accident site: at the top of "Parkline Slab", at the edge of the park at the east end of El Portal

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • CAL FIRE News Release

    California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

    CONTACT: Daniel Berlant, (916) 651-FIRE (3473), on twitter @CALFIRE_PIO

    DATE: October 7, 2014

    CAL FIRE Airtanker Incident

    Sacramento – This afternoon contact was lost with one of our airtankers flying over a fire near Yosemite National Park. Emergency personnel are currently responding to the last known location of the aircraft. The airtanker was assigned to the Dog Rock Fire burning near Yosemite’s Arch Rock. The status of the aircraft and the pilot have not been determined. Additional information will be provided as its made available.

  • CAL FIRE Press Release, 10/7/14:

    This evening we can confirm that one of our S-2T air tankers has crashed near the location of the Dog Rock Fire burning near Yosemite National Park. Rescue personnel are at scene working their way through extremely difficult terrain to determine the condition of our pilot. I will continue to share information with you as its made available and confirmed. Please keep our pilot in your thoughts and prayers.

    KEN PIMLOTT, Director CAL FIRE

  • FAA Preliminary Accident / Incident Notification: Tanker 81 WHILE PERFORMING FIRE FIGHTING DUTIES, FOREST SERVICE AIRCRAFT, TNKR 81, IMPACTED RUGGED TERRAIN AFTER WING TIP STRIKING TREE. (Should read CAL FIRE aircraft - Dyncorp International, not Forest Service as stated.) More at the link.
  • Cal Fire clears 22-plane tanker fleet for flight after investigation into deadly crash

    10/10/2014 | Onine Article

    An initial investigation has found that mechanical failure was likely not the cause of an air tanker crash Tuesday that took the life of 62-year-old pilot Geoffrey “Craig” Hunt. That finding prompted the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to return its 22 Grumman S-2T planes to service Friday.

  • News Release from CAL FIRE, 10/8/2014

    Pilot Identified in Fatal Airtanker Crash (pdf) text below

    By: Daniel Berlant, CAL FIRE

    Sacramento - CAL FIRE officials today released the identity of the pilot killed in yesterday’s airtanker crash in Yosemite National Park.

    Geoffrey “Craig” Hunt, age 62, of San Jose was a 13 year veteran pilot of Dyncorp International under contract with CAL FIRE.

    “We continue to mourn the tragic loss of Craig,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director. “We know wildland firefighting is an inherently dangerous job, but Craig made the ultimate sacrifice.”

    “Our thoughts and prayers are with Craig’s family during this difficult time,” said Jeff Cavarra, program director for DynCorp International.

    Today the National Transportation Safety Board has assumed command of the investigation and CAL FIRE continues to support them.

    ###

  • Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA, AAP and research by the WLF Staff:
    • 10/7/2014, 1625 hrs, Tanker 81
    • 1 killed, Geoffrey “Craig” Hunt
    • Operator: Dyncorp International under contract with CAL FIRE. operating out of Hollister Air Attack Base, CA
    • Type: GRUMMAN S-2T
    • Location: near El Portal and Yosemite National Park, CA
    • FAA Registration # N449DF
    • NTSB # WPR15GA005
  • National Transportation Safety Board: Preliminary Statement

    This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. : NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

    On October 7, 2014, about 1630 Pacific daylight time, a Marsh Aviation S-2F3AT airplane, N449DF, call sign tanker 81, was destroyed by impact with terrain and a postcrash fire while maneuvering in the Yosemite National Park, near El Portal, California. The airplane was registered to and operated by Cal Fire under contract to the National Parks Service, as a visual flight rules (VFR), public use aerial firefighting tanker. The airline transport pilot, the sole occupant, received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed Columbia Airport (O22), Columbia, California.

    According to a Forest Service spokesman, the airplane was stationed at the airbase at Hollister, California, and had been dispatched to the Dog Rock fire. The airplane arrived on scene, and made one drop on the fire, then proceeded to the Columbia Airport to be reloaded with fire retardant.

    During the aerial firefighting operations, in addition to the aerial tanker, 2 other aircraft were used; an orbiting aerial controller that coordinated aerial operations with ground units; and a "lead plane" that tracked ahead of the tanker to define the route and the drop initiation point.

    Upon returning to the fire scene, the accident airplane had coordinated its next drop with the orbiting aerial coordinator, and was following the lead airplane. The crew of the lead airplane did not see the accident. The crew of the controller airplane reported that the accident airplane may have struck a tree with its wing, which separated from the airplane. Both aircrews reported that there was smoke in the area, but visibility was good.

    On October 9, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge and an additional NTSB investigator arrived on scene. Also on scene were representatives (investigators) of the U.S.D.A Office of Aviation Safety (OAS), National Parks Service (NPS), U.S Forest Service (USFS), and CAL FIRE.

  • National Transportation Safety Board: Probable Cause link (html)

    ...Cause (when we know)

  • NTSB: Brief and  Preliminary Report (pdf)
  • For more information consult the NTSB online lookup Utility Use NTSB Identification: WPR15GA005

From Paul D

Crash site Crash site

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Wildlandfire.com Links:

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Media Articles and Reports

  • YubaNet: Dog Rock Fire with developing information 10/7/2014
  • Dog Rock Fire prompts evacuations in Yosemite, Hwy 140 closed (some photos from local residents)

    10/7/2014 | Online Article

    FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) A vegetation fire near Foresta in Yosemite National Park has prompted the park service to evacuate 60 homes. The fire has also closed Highway 140 into Yosemite.
  • Pilot in Yosemite airtanker crash has died (name not yet released)

    10/7/2014 | Online Article

    FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The airtanker was based out of the Hollister Air Attack Base and had been fighting the Dog Rock Fire near El Portal when officials lost contact with it late Tuesday afternoon. (More text and video at the link...)

  • CAL FIRE News Release (link above) has identified our fallen pilot as Geoffrey “Craig” Hunt, age 62, of San Jose, a 13 year veteran pilot of Dyncorp International under contract with CAL FIRE.

 

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • Capitol flags were ordered lowered to half-staff in Hunt’s honor, Gov. Jerry Brown’s office announced.
  • Obituary: Hunt's Memorial page says:

    CAL FIRE Line of Duty Death

    Dyncorp Pilot

    Geoffrey "Craig" Hunt

    Geoffrey "Craig" Hunt was born October 14, 1951 in Richmond, IN. He is survived by his wife, Sally, whom he married September, 1975.

    Hunt served as a US Navy P3 Pilot from 1975-1984 and was in the reserves for 20 years.

    Hunt earned a Masters in Business from the University of Southern California and a Masters in Biochemistry from the University of Santa Cruz, and served as a chemistry teacher in the off season at the University of Santa Cruz.

    He had a love for flying, golfing, fishing, hiking, bird watching, scuba diving, math/sciences, teaching, and dogs.

    "My dad died a hero. There was not a day that went by that I didn't talk to my dad. He was my best friend" - Sarah Hunt Lauterbach.

    Hunt’s plane was based out of Hollister Air Attack Base, about 30 miles south of San Jose, according to Cal Fire. It was manufactured in 2001, according to FAA records.

  • San Jose Memorial for CAL FIRE pilot killed in line of duty

    10/10/2014 | Online Article

    SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A small memorial was held Friday for Geoffrey "Craig" Hunt, the pilot who died in the CAL FIRE air tanker crash near Yosemite on Tuesday. Hunt was a contracted pilot for CAL FIRE.

    The service for the 62-year-old from San Jose was private. Hunt's family plans to have a larger service at a later date. He will be cremated and his ashes will be flown to a cemetery near his grandfather's farm in Indiana. (Much more at the link...)

  • CAL FIRE Pilots Memorial in photos of Craig and his colleagues
  • USFA Memorial Database: Geoffrey Craig Hunt
  • CAL FIRE Memorial Service Announcement (Download for full details including RSVP for equipment.)

    Location: Church on the Hill, 500 Sands Dr., San Jose, CA 95125

    Date: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 10 a.m

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Contributors to this article: hotlist.wildlandfire.com, yubanet.com, Craig Rose, Daniel Berlant for CAL FIRE

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