Preliminary Report: Tanker flight fatal for three firefighters

 - November 4, 2008, 5:47 AM

Lockheed SP-2H, Reno, Nev., Sept. 1, 2008–The Lockheed Neptune air tanker was destroyed after losing power and crashing two miles from Reno Stead Airport, killing the two ATP-rated pilots and a flight mechanic. A witness who watched the airplane take off reported seeing flames coming from the left engine when the airplane was at about 100 to 300 feet agl. The left wing was engulfed in flames. About two seconds later, the airplane banked to the left before hitting the ground and bursting into flames. The airplane had also hit powerlines, about 50 feet high, near its point of impact. It was registered to Neptune Aviation Services of Missoula, Mont., and operated by the California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection.