September 2008 - Neptune Aviation
N4235T, a Lockheed Neptune, was destroyed after impacting terrain following
a loss of power and loss of control about 2 miles northwest of the Reno/Stead
(4SD) Airport, Reno, Nevada. The airplane was registered to Neptune
Aviation Services Inc., of Missoula, Montana, and operated by the California
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). The airline transport
first pilot, who occupied the left crew seat, the airline transport
second pilot who occupied the right crew seat, and the flight mechanic
who occupied the cockpit jumpseat, were killed. Visual meteorological
conditions prevailed for the Public Use air drop flight, which was being
operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137,
and a company flight plan was filed and activated. The flight was originating
at the time of the accident.
An air tanker base employee who witnessed the accident reported observing
the airplane taxi to Runway 32 "...and everything appeared normal."
The witness reported watching the airplane takeoff, and at an elevation
estimated to be between 100 to 300 feet above the ground, he observed
the left jet engine emitting flames, followed by the left wing being
engulfed in flames. The witness further reported that about 2 seconds
later the airplane entered a left wing down attitude before impacting
terrain and bursting into flames.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC),
accompanied by representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA), the United States Department of Forestry, and representatives
from Neptune Aviation Services, Inc., responded to the accident site
on September 2, 2008. The initial onsite examination revealed that about
500 feet from the departure end of Runway 32, several identifiable pieces
of the airplane's left jet engine were located. It was also revealed
that prior to impacting terrain the airplane had collided with a set
of powerlines, estimated to be about 50 feet high. An initial ground
impact scar was observed about 25 feet west of the powerlines, followed
by the airplane's energy path proceeding in a westerly direction, covering
a measured distance of about 755 feet on a magnetic heading of 250 degrees.
The damage assessment also revealed that the airplane had sustained
significant fragmentation and thermal damage throughout the debris path.
the Cockpit Voice Recorder transcript