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Thu, Sep 07, 2006

CDF OV-10 Spotter Plane Down

Pilot And Battalion Chief Lost In Accident

An OV-10 Bronco spotter aircraft assisting fire fighters working a small blaze in a wooded area near California's Sequoia National Forest crashed Wednesday.

Gov. Schwarzenegger's office told UPI the pilot was George Willett, 52, from Hanford, CA. Mr. Willet was a contract pilot working for DynCorp. His passenger was California Department of Forestry (CDF) Battalion Chief Robert Paul Stone, 36, of Visalia, CA.

The cause of the crash is unknown and an investigation is under way.

"I've worked here 26 years and you hear of a CDF plane going down every few years," agency spokeswoman Becki Redwine told the LA Times. "This one's a mystery. We have no clue why it went down."

The Governor's office ordered flags flown at half-staff in the state capitol.

(ANN thanks David Atkinson for his photograph of a Department of Forestry OV-10, shown above -- Ed)

**   Report created 9/7/2006   Record 1
*******************************

IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 419DF        Make/Model: V10       Description: OV-10 Bronco
  Date: 09/06/2006     Time: 1830

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Fatal     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Destroyed

LOCATION
  City: PORTERVILLE   State: CA   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  N419DF, A NORTH AMERICAN OV-10A USDA FOREST SERVICE PUBLIC USE ACFT,
  CRASHED DURING A FIRE SUPPRESION FLIGHT, THE TWO PERSONS ON BOARD WERE
  FATALLY INJURED, PORTERVILLE, CA

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   2
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   1     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   
                 # Pass:   1     Fat:   1     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   

WEATHER: METAR 061835Z AUTO 32008KT 10SM CLR 33/14 A2997

OTHER DATA
  Activity: Public Use      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  Departed:                             Dep Date:    Dep. Time:     
  Destination:                          Flt Plan:              Wx Briefing: 
  Last Radio Cont: 
  Last Clearance: 

  FAA FSDO: FRESNO, CA  (WP17)                    Entry date: 09/07/2006

FMI: www.fire.ca.gov, www.faa.gov

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