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Fixed Wing Articles
  Aerial Firefighting

Australia Put Firefighting Tankers to the Test PDF  | Print |  E-mail


February 09, 2010 

Click here for the article from Flightglobal


Chinese Water-bomber Under Development PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Water Aircraft Lands in 2013

The first Chinese-made large amphibious aircraft is scheduled to take off in 2013, and ready for mass production in 2015, a senior engineer for the manufacturer said.

The amphibious aircraft, about the size of an Airbus 320, will handle emergency services and military tasks that are difficult or impossible with current aircraft in China today.

Water aircraft lands in 2013
Read the full article in the China Daily News on 10-20-2009


Missoula crash victim: ‘Great Christian young man' PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Saturday, September 6, 2008 

By KATIE OYAN Associated Press

HELENA - The 25-year-old Missoula man who died this week in an air tanker crash in Nevada was a “super guy” who loved aviation and moved to Montana to pursue his dream, friends and family members said Thursday.

Zach VanderGriend, an airplane mechanic, was one of three men aboard the Lockheed P2V-7 that went down shortly after taking off from Reno-Stead Airport on a firefighting mission. Also killed in the crash Monday were pilot Calvin Gene Wahlstrom, 61, of Hunstville, Utah, and co-pilot Greg “Gonzo” Gonsioroski, 41, of Baker.

The plane was owned by Neptune Aviation Services Inc. of Missoula.

VanderGriend was a “great Christian young man who lived his faith every day,” said his father, Steve VanderGriend of Gig Harbor, Wash. He became interested in flying as a child and developed a passion for it, earning his private pilot's license at age 17.

VanderGriend studied at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and Moody Aviation in Spokane before graduating from Grace University in Omaha, Neb.

He started looking for jobs and found one at Neptune. He moved to Missoula in late May.

“The first time he came in contact with Neptune, he knew without a shadow of a doubt that's where he wanted to be,” Steve VanderGriend said. “He was passionate about it. He loved the people he worked with and the good that he was doing in the world through fighting fires.

The full Missoulian article... 


Missoula man among 3 killed in crash PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Saturday, September 6, 2008

By MICHAEL MOORE of the Missoulian

Neptune Aviation chief pilot Gene Wahlstrom, right, is shown with pilot Terry Johnson in the company's hangar in March 2008. Wahlstrom was killed in the crash of an air tanker on Monday evening. Photo by TOM BAUER/Missoulian

The three men who died in Reno, Nev., Monday evening in the crash of an air tanker all worked for Missoula's Neptune Aviation.

The three were identified Wednesday by the Washoe County, Nev., coroner's office as 25-year-old Zachary Jake Vander Griend, of Missoula; 41-year-old Greg Gonsioroski, of Baker; and the company's chief pilot, Gene Wahlstrom, 61, of Hunstville, Utah.

Wahlstrom spent a lot of time in Missoula, but his family had its permanent home in Utah.

The men were all aboard Neptune Tanker 09 as it rumbled out of Reno-Stead Airport to drop a load of fire retardant on a small fire burning in Calaveras County, Calif. The plane, piloted by Wahlstrom, crashed shortly after taking off and experiencing fire in one of its engines.

The crash came as a stunning blow to the company and its employees.

Neptune President Kristen Schloemer-Nicolarsen said she appreciated the care and concern shown by Missoulians toward the company over the past few days.

“We appreciate so much the support of the community,” she said. “Right now, we just need to be spending time with the families. We'll talk about everything else later.”

Wahlstrom, who joined the company in 1999, was the subject of a Missoulian story in March, shortly after Neptune's 22 pilots finished a training course in Seattle.

“This business has inherent risks,” said Wahlstrom. “You're taking an 80,000-pound plane and flying at low altitudes and low speeds of about 140 mph. You're working in mountains and around hazards of power lines, antennas and trees.”

 The full Missoulian article...


Jet engine fire downs Neptune aircraft, killing 3 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Tuesday, September 2, 2008 

By SCOTT SONNER of the Associated Press

RENO, Nev. - A jet engine fire engulfed the wing of a Neptune Aviation air tanker moments after takeoff, sending the plane rolling into the ground and killing all three members of the Missoula-based firefighting crew, a federal investigator said Tuesday night.

The Lockheed P2V-7 aircraft, on the way to drop retardant on a California wildfire, was between 100 and 300 feet off the ground when it crashed less than two miles from the Reno-Stead Airport on Monday evening, said Tom Little, lead investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.

Little said nothing indicates pilot error played a role in the crash, which brings to 27 the number of deaths in fatal crashes of firefighting air tankers in the U.S. since 1991.

“Two witnesses confirmed the fire was from the jet engine,” Little told reporters at the airport north of Reno on Tuesday night.

Investigators recovered several large pieces of metal north of the runway that appear to have come from the burning engine, he said.

“It appears it had disintegrated and subsequently left the aircraft. We know there was a fire on board the aircraft,” Little said.

“We just are at a loss right now as to why, No. 1, the engine caught on fire, and No. 2, what caused the loss of control of the aircraft?” he said. “That is what the focus of the investigation will be over the next six to nine months.”

Casey Meaden, who lives near the airport, said she was watching the plane take off when she noticed an engine was on fire.

“It didn't seem like he was getting much altitude,” she said. “It was a little while after it got into the air. I could see it was off the ground. I said, ‘Oh, my God! That thing is on fire.' ”

The full article in the Missoulian September 2, 2008


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© 2008 Aerial Fire Fighting