I am looking for information regarding a wildland firefighting aircraft wreck site from June 21, 1961 near Payson.
Was wondering if anyone had run across wreckage or knew of particulars about this crash. Both pilots were killed spotting for borate bombers in the "Hatchery Fire" of 1961.
The aircraft was a Cessna 180 tail-dragger. It crashed near or within the hotspot of the fire and I imagine most if not all of the wreck was left on site as it was totally destroyed and burned. I just dont know where it is.
Newspaper article says: "1/4 mile east of the old Horton Creek Road, some 16 miles northeast of Payson."
Does anyone know what old Horton Creek Rd. is called now (Rim Road?)? Or run across aircraft aluminum in this area?
We are building a dedication page on our website to aircraft fire tanker crew fatalities in Arizona and had wanted to locate this crash site in particular because it is one of the oldest in the state.
I'll attach my write-up about the crash which is derived from about 20 newspaper articles I have retrieved on the crash. Civilian aircraft crashes prior to 1965 are very difficult to get records or reports on, otherwise we may have progressed further on this one.
Cessna 180 “birddog” Forest Service fire spotter plane
June 21, 1961
A Cessna 180 flying “birddog” spotter duty for borate bombers near Payson, Arizona collided with a Forest Service T-34 observation plane and crashed on this date. Killed onboard the C-180 was pilot Art Goodnow, age 40, a Forest Service contract pilot and passenger Constantine Kodz, 33, a Forest Service helicopter fire attack crew member.
The crash occurred at 7AM while both aircraft were guiding borate bombers into the fire. Their wings brushed with the T-34 (ex-USAF training aircraft). They were acting as “lead-in planes” for the borate bombers.
The Cessna plummeted to the forest ground near Horton Creek, a half-mile east of one of the hottest spots of the forest fire. It burst into flames causing another fire, which was put out by fire crews.
The T-34, piloted by Lou Parker, a Forest Service contract pilot, limped back to Payson Airport and landed safely with no injuries to himself or his passenger Howard Shupe, a Tonto air operations and fire control officer.
It took helicopter crews two and a half hours to reach the scene of the Cessna crash. Ground parties reached the site around noon and found the two Cessna crewmembers deceased. The bodies were removed and returned to Payson Airport.
Fires rages in the Tonto National Forest that summer. 5 days earlier, pilot Charles Cochran was killed in a converted WWII TBM Avenger borate bomber following engine trouble in the same area east of Payson fighting a separate fire called the “Robert’s Burn” which consumed 3,000 acres.
This Cessna 180 was helping to fight a second 400-acre fire in the area called the “Hatchery Fire”. More than 500 firefighters were fighting the blaze which was touched off by lightning in the D i c k Williams Creek
area southeast of Tonto Fish Hatchery. They were struggling to keep the fire from reaching the top of the Mogollon Rim.
The fire eventually burned 540 acres and knifed along a ridge close to the Mogollon Rim crest but the blaze fell back under the weight of firefighters and downhill winds. Fire crews actually built a fire line on top of the rim to stop the fire had it reached the top.
Constantine Kodz’ wife filed a wrongful death suit against the estate of pilot Goodnow and others for this mishap in the amount of $200,000 approximately 1962 (other defendants were Shupe and the owner of the Cessna 180, A.H. Davidson). She was awarded $70,000. Howard Shupe onboard the T-34 was also a defendant for directing the air operations that day. A couple other lawsuits commenced as well. Goodnow’s widow and daughter sued another unknown party (Forest Service?) for $100,000 and settled for $35,000. Another suit for $21,594.65 was filed by Payson Weight Flyte Service and their insurance company (probably for the cost of the aircraft) and settled for $15,000.
We aren’t sure of the basis of the lawsuits. It appears that the C-180 was supposed to relieve the T-34 and they should not have both been in the same area at the time of the mid-air. Fault may have been placed on Goodnow or Shupe and USFS for misdirecting operations that day, but we are not sure.
Lou Parker, pilot of the T-34, was killed in another air tanker crash in 1964 but we have been unable to find information on this crash.
There are two streets in Payson named Goodnow and Kodz. Both lived in Payson at the time of their deaths.
Thanks for any help ... it is much appreciated.