Tanker 11 went down while turning onto final approach

The NTSB has released a two-paragraph statement about the accident in which air tanker pilots Todd Tompkins and Ron Chambless were killed. The P2V went down June 3 while they were helping to suppress the White Rock fire in Utah. Here is the complete text of the statement.


NTSB Identification: WPR12GA243

  • Nonscheduled 14 CFR Public Use
  • Accident occurred Sunday, June 03, 2012 in Modena, UT
  • Aircraft: LOCKHEED P2V-7, registration: N14447
  • Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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.

On June 3, 2012, at 1347 mountain daylight time, a Lockheed P2V-7, N14447 (using call sign Tanker 11), collided with mountainous terrain while conducting firefighting operations 20 miles north of Modena, Utah. The airplane was operated by Neptune Aviation Services under contract with the US Forest Service as a public aerial firefighting flight. Both pilots were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged by impact forces and a post crash fire. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a company flight plan had been filed. The flight originated in Cedar City, Utah, at 1315.

While conducting its second retardant drop of the day, Tanker 11 followed behind the lead airplane into the drop zone. The drop zone was located in a shallow valley that was 0.4 miles wide and 350 feet deep. The lead airplane flew a shallow right-hand turn on to final, and dropped to an altitude of 150 feet above the valley floor over the intended drop area. While making the right turn on to final behind the lead plane, Tanker 11 impacted rising terrain that was about 700 feet left of the lead airplane’s flight path.

(end of NTSB statement)


There had been conflicting reports in the media about whether Tanker 11 crashed before, during, or after it dropped a load of retardant. This statement from the NTSB indicates that the aircraft crashed before it reached the intended drop area, but does not specify if the retardant was jettisoned, as might be done if the aircraft was experiencing difficulties. As usual in these investigations, it will be many months, or years, before the NTSB releases their final report.

A memorial service to celebrate the lives of Todd Tompkins and Ron Chambless will be held Thursday, June 14 in Boise, Idaho.

UPDATE: Fire Aviation has an article about the final NTSB report. And, here is a link to all articles on Fire Aviation tagged “T-11”.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.