NTSB Identification: DEN02TA052.
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Accident occurred Sunday, June 09, 2002 in Grand Junction, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/06/2002
Aircraft: Beech 58P, registration: N123Z
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot departed Grand Junction, Colorado (GJT) on fire assignment as a Forest Service lead airplane, to the Coal Seam Fire in Garfield County, Colorado, in the vicinity of Glenwood Springs. The pilot reported experiencing low-level wind shear and light, moderate, and severe turbulence from just after takeoff through arriving at the area of operation. Following a reconnaissance of the fire, the pilot reported climbing to approximately 5,000 feet agl (above ground level) to avoid the turbulence and wait for wind conditions to improve so that tanker operations (aircraft dropping fire suppressant chemicals on the wildfire) could begin. The pilot reported that wind conditions improved and tanker operations commenced. On conclusion of the tanker operations, the pilot returned to GJT. The pilot reported he was in the vicinity of the Book Cliffs, approximately 10 miles northeast of GJT, approximately 2,000 feet agl in a low power descent, and an airspeed of approximately 150-160 knots, when he encountered one significant event of severe turbulence. The pilot reported the winds were out of the southwest at 20 knots with gusts to 29 knots. The airplane continued to GJT and landed uneventfully. The aircraft damage was noted the following morning during a routine preflight inspection. An examination of the airplane showed the top skin of the airplane's left wing, between the fuselage and the left engine nacelle, was buckled. No other anomalies were found. The reported winds at GJT, 34 minutes prior to the event, were 180 degrees at 20 knots with gusts to 28 knots.

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

the pilot's inadvertent flight into adverse weather conditions. A factor contributing to the accident was the terrain-induced turbulence.

Full narrative available

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