NTSB Identification: LAX96LA230.
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Accident occurred Friday, June 14, 1996 in ORACLE, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/20/1996
Aircraft: Ayres S2R, registration: N4006K
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot configured the aircraft to drop fire retardant over a fire with a planned downhill turn to the left after the release, so as to avoid rising bowl type terrain to the right. He did not release the retardant, when over the fire as expected; instead, he raised the flaps, added power, and turned to the right. During the right turn, he was close to a stall and reportedly encountered a downdraft. He rolled wings level to control a collision with the ground. He did not use the emergency release handle to drop the load. The aircraft was operating near its maximum gross weight, and the density altitude was about 7,700 feet. Examination of the drop system, including the emergency release mechanism, did not indicate a malfunction or failure. A witness flying overhead observed that the aircraft entered the right turn into the bowl area with an estimated airspeed of about 60 knots.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the pilot's improper decision to turn toward rising terrain, without releasing or jettisoning the load of fire retardant, while maneuvering at slow airspeed, which resulted in a stall/mush and collision with the terrain. Factors relating to the accident were: the proximity of rising terrain, and high density altitude.

Full narrative available

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