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Incident Name: approaching the Columbia Airtanker Base, Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit, California
Date: 7/18/1970
Personnel: 2 lives lost
Agency/Organization: Hemet Valley Flying Service under contract with CDF (now CAL FIRE)
Position: aerial firefighter


Don Campbell, 63
John Carter, 50

The PBY-6A airtanker - Tanker 77 - was on final approach to the airport at Columbia CA when it undershot the runway and crashed into rocks. Pilot Don Campbell & Copilot John Carter died.

From Wikipedia, TBY type, also Airtanker Pilots


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Columbia Airtanker Base, Tuolumne, California, crashed on final approach

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA, AAP and research by the WLF Staff:
    • 7/18/1970, 1600 hours
    • 2 killed, Don Campbell & John Carter
    • Operator: Hemet Valley Flying Service under contract with California Department of Forestry (now CAL FIRE)
    • Type: CONVAIR PBY-6A
    • Location: runway at Columbia Airtanker Base, CA
    • FAA Registration # N6459C
    • NTSB # OAK71FVA08
  • National Transportation Safety Board: Probable Cause

    Undershot final approach to runway; Collided with object.

    The pilot in command - misjudged distance, speed and altitude.

    Factors: Miscellaneous acts, conditions - downwind; weather - high temperature;

    Remarks - aircraft observed making 360 turns at low altitude. Pilot replied final approach. Hit granite boulders 252 feet short, 5 feet below runway.

    OAK71FVA08 OAK71FVA08
  • For more information consult the NTSB online lookup Utility Use NTSB Identification: OAK71FVA08
  • Warbird Registry: Tanker 77
  • California Death Index: John W Carter | Donald Campbell

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Contributors to this article: Mellie

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