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N806MA accident description

Nevada map... Nevada list
Crash location 40.634166°N, 117.797777°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Winnemucca, NV
40.972958°N, 117.735685°W
23.6 miles away
Tail number N806MA
Accident date 17 Jul 2007
Aircraft type Air Tractor AT-802A
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On July 17, 2007, at 1922 Pacific daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-802A single engine air tanker (SEAT), N806MA, operated under the call sign Tanker 458, was destroyed when it impacted mountainous terrain during a fire retardant drop near Winnemucca, Nevada. The United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), operated the airplane under an exclusive public-use firefighting contract. The wild land fire partially consumed the airplane as it swept through the accident site. The certificated airline transport pilot (ATP), the sole occupant, received minor injuries. At the time of the event, a BLM flight plan was filed, with an air attack airplane overhead in communications with the pilot of the accident airplane. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local area flight. The airplane departed Winnemucca Municipal Airport (WMC) at 1914, and was tracked by the BLM via Automated Flight Following (AFF).

According to the operator, three SEAT aircraft were providing fire suppression support to the Barrel Springs, Nevada, fire. On the day of the accident, the pilot flew 16 flights, which totaled 6.17 hours of flight time. On the 17th flight, the pilot planned on dropping into a retardant gap area that was created by the two other SEAT aircraft. The pilot reported that he "was anxious to get [to the fire] because that fire was definitely on its way through the gap." During the first run of his drop, the pilot flew in a southerly direction heading downhill. After the first drop, the pilot said he "pulled off left and executed a 270-degree right turn to set up for another drop." The pilot began his second drop heading north into rising terrain. After a few moments, the pilot realized the airplane would not out climb the terrain, and he attempted a right turn to remain clear of the terrain; however, the airplane impacted the terrain in an upright, level attitude approximately 10 feet below the crest of a hill. The air attack pilot stated that the accident pilot relayed to him that there were no mechanical problems with the airplane, and he had been caught by a downdraft during the drop.

The weather at the time of the accident based on Remote Automated Weather Service (RAWS) data was wind from the west at 14 miles per hour; sky clear; visibility 10 nautical miles; temperature 90 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter setting of 29.82 inches of Mercury; and a calculated density altitude of 8,257 feet.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance with terrain while maneuvering.

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