USA — Minden Air Corps Tanker 48 was involved in an incident at Fresno, California on Sunday. While working on the Shirley Fire near Lake Isabella, the 53-year old P2V experienced a problem with the hydraulic system and diverted to the long runway at Fresno. According to Mike Ferris, spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service, the nose wheel collapsed upon landing. There were no injuries to the crew.
Minden had a serious incident with another of their P2V air tankers on June 3, 2012 involving malfunctioning landing gear. In that incident only one main landing gear and the nose gear were able to be lowered and locked on Tanker 55, leaving one main landing gear up or not locked. The aircraft landed at Minden on just two of the three landing gears. The pilots skillfully put the aircraft on the runway, finally skidding it to a stop after sliding off the runway into the grass. The crew walked away, but the tanker was heavily damaged and has not been repaired.
The same day Mindens T-55 crash-landed in 2012, Neptunes T-11 crashed while working on a wildfire near the Nevada/Utah border killing Capt. Todd Neal Topkins and First Officer Ronnie Edwin Chambless. Both were from Boise.
The crash of Tanker 55 in 2012 left Minden with only one air tanker, T-48. For several years they have been working on converting a jet-powered airliner, a BAe-146, into an air tanker. That project is nearing completion and in the next few weeks or months may receive all of the approvals necessary for it to drop retardant on fires.
On June 26, 2010 air tanker 44, a P2V operated by Neptune Aviation also experienced a hydraulic failure upon landing, had no brakes, and went off the runway at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (JeffCo) in Colorado (map). Both pilots self-evacuated and were walking around when the fire apparatus arrived to put out a fire in one of the engines. Neptune repaired the aircraft and put it back into service.