Pilot Landed Aircraft Safely, Crew Not Injured
A National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report
released Sunday confirmed a DC-10 firebomber, operated for the
California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CalFire) was
damaged last month during a retardant drop on a brush fire near
"The flight crew was on their third flight of the day and
preparing to jettison a load of retardant," the NTSB report says.
"While in a left turn from base to final for the drop, the left
wing dipped downward and impacted several trees."
As ANN reported, the aircraft
sustained damage to the leading edge of the left wing, and to
control surfaces including the aileron.
The odd part is the crew didn't even realize they'd brushed the
trees. According to San Diego KGTV-10 News, the plane's crew did
not feel the trees strike the wing, but an observer on the ground
saw lumber splinter and immediately notified the pilots on the
After impact, the pilot climbed to 11,000 feet for a
controllability check. "The crew declared an emergency and returned
to the departure airport... where they landed uneventfully," said
The Riverside Press-Enterprise said the DC-10 is out of service
for repairs for at least another week following the close-call June
Rick Hatton, one of the aircraft's owners, told reporters the
left engine itself was not damaged. "That was pretty lucky, because
it hangs down of the left wing and there was damage to either side
of it," he said.
Cal Fire Chief Mike Padilla said he is reviewing all DC-10 air
operational plans, and the agency is conducting its own
"We're looking at everything from the weather, turbulence, on
that date to our procedures for lining up the aircraft and how the
pilots are perceiving the drop," he said.
Padilla said even experienced pilots can often be fooled by
mountain topography. "We've had several tree strikes this
The DC-10's flight crew has had to undergo air-tanker operations
refresher training for as a result of their mishap.