Sunday, August 3, 2008

Uncle Ter ~ Two Year Anniversary of His Death


Terry W. Jacobs was a potential VHPA member who died after his tour in Vietnam on 08/04/2006 at the age of 58 from Helicopter crash while fighting fires in California.

Thomasville, NC
Flight Class 69-41
Date of Birth 02/18/1948

Served in the U.S. Army Served in Vietnam with 191 AHC in 70-71 This information was provided by Bernard R Harvey

More detail on this person: Terry Wayne Jacobs age: 58 date died: 08/04/2006
address: 676 Old Hwy 29 North city: Thomasville, state: NC zip: 27360 country: USA
place of death: California cause of death: Helicopter Crash
flight class: 69-41 branch of service: Army dates1: Jan 1970 Mid 1971 unit1: 191st AHC location1: Can Tho
survivors: Never married and no children

other: Terry was killed while fighting fires From: Bernard R Harvey (
That crash was on 4 August. Steve Dillman (Gunslinger 39) had been flying that Crane and had just finished his rotation. I talked to him week before last and he said the aircraft was at the dip-site when it picked up a severe vibration. The crew pickled the load and tried to get it to a landing site. It slung a tail rotor blade and, before they had gone much over a hundred slung the t/r gearbox, went into a spin.... and the rest is history. Guess the aircraft wound up in the river. They grounded all the cranes for an inspection and replaced a bunch of blades etc. They are back flying now and when I talked to Steve he was enroute back to relieve one of the other crews. From: "doc daugherty"
This information was last updated 08/14/2006

On August 4, 2006, Heavy Lift Helicopter N6156U,
crashed into the Klamath River at Independence Creek, resulting
in the line of duty deaths of Andrei Pantchenko and Terry
“Jake” Jacobs. - Printable ArticleThe Web's Source for Fire, Rescue & EMS

Copter wreckage to be pulled out of Klamath River
Officials investigate crash that killed two in firefighting efforts.
By Christine Vovakes -- Bee Correspondent
Published 12:01 am PDT
Tuesday, August 8, 2006

HAPPY CAMP -- Officials plan to raise a mangled helicopter out of the Klamath River today as they continue to investigate the accident that claimed the life of the pilot and co-pilot Friday near the town of Happy Camp.

The bodies of pilot Terry Wayne Jacobs, 48, of Wofford Heights, Kern County, and co- pilot Andrei Pantchenko, 38, of Burns, Ore., were recovered from the submerged wreckage Saturday, Siskiyou County sheriff's spokeswoman Susan Gravenkamp said. The two men, who crashed around 7:45 p.m. Friday, had been part of firefighting efforts in the Marble Mountain Wilderness.Results of the autopsies are expected today, said Gravenkamp.

The pilots worked for Heavy Lift Helicopters Inc. of Apple Valley, a San Bernardino County company under contract with the U.S. Forest Service.Sheriff Lt. Jim Betts, operations commander during Saturday's recovery, said that either cranes or heavy-lift helicopters will be used to pull the Sikorsky CH-54 helicopter from the steep canyon. The wreckage will be taken to a National Transportation Safety Board site to be reconstructed in an attempt to determine what caused the accident.The river in that area -- about 10 miles southwest of Happy Camp along Highway 96 -- will remain closed to recreational use at least through today as divers continue to search the water.

The aircraft came to rest on its side in a portion of the river that is 6 to 8 feet deep. Witnesses on the river tried to aid the pilots, but to no avail, Betts said.

"There were people who could get up on the rig itself, but the wreckage was torn up and the pilots were pinned inside," he said. "About half the aircraft was submerged. The cockpit had partially torn away and was totally submerged."

Jacobs got his pilot's license as a teenager in Goshen, Ind., his sister Sandra Santrock said in a phone interview Monday.

Santrock, of Lexington, N.C., said her brother, a graduate of Purdue University, served two tours of duty in Vietnam, where he mainly flew medevac missions. "He loved to fly," she said.

Later, when Jacobs wasn't flying helicopters for logging or firefighting, he spent his time outdoors as a general contractor.

Several years ago he temporarily quit flying to care for his mother during her terminal illness, his sister said.

Jacobs was engaged to Lucette Evans of Wofford Heights, Santrock said.

No information was available about Pantchenko, whose family lives in Russia.

Jacobs and Pantchenko's helicopter was one of three that had been scooping water from mountain lakes to dump it on the persistent string of wildfires that have been burning for two weeks.

A series of thunderstorms in the far northern counties sparked numerous fires Sunday and Monday. Officials were worried that storms Monday night would result in more wildfires.

August 6, 2006
Two killed in Klamath River helicopter crashBy Paul FattigMail Tribune

HAPPY CAMP, Calif. — The pilot and co-pilot of a Sikorsky helicopter were killed Friday evening when their aircraft plunged into the Klamath River.

Terry Wayne Jacobs, 48, of Wofford Heights, Calif., was identified Saturday afternoon as the pilot of the Heavy Lift Helicopter Inc. chopper out of Apple Valley, Calif., according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department. The co-pilot's name was not released because his family lives outside the United States and had not been notified of the accident yet, sheriff's department officials reported.

The accident occurred while the aircraft was battling the Happy Camp complex wildfires in the Klamath National Forest some 10 miles south of Happy Camp, a Klamath River hamlet about 50 air miles southwest of Medford. The accident occurred near milepost 28.63 on Highway 96 near Happy Camp around 7:45 p.m. Friday, according to the Siskiyou County sheriff. A dive team from the department helped retrieve the bodies from the river Saturday. Autopsies were planned for early next week.

Smoke from the complex of fires drifted into the Rogue Valley Saturday and is expected to linger for a day or two.

U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Jean Gilbertson said the helicopter was owned by a private company working under contract to the agency. No additional information about the crash would be given to the media until a National Transportation Board team completed its investigation, she said.

The helicopter crew was among the roughly 500 firefighters deployed to the wildfire complex sparked by a July 23 lightning storm. Because of the crash, no aircraft were used in fighting the fire on Saturday, officials said. However, ground crews continue to dig firelines and burn out areas around the main fire to stop the fire's advance.
The accident was a severe blow to firefighters already hampered by steep, rugged terrain.
"In our small community, this is really devastating," said a weary firefighter who answered the telephone at the Happy Camp complex firefighting headquarters.

All but one of the 11 fires in the complex had been contained by firelines Saturday afternoon. The Titus fire, which had burned 2,843 acres in the Marble Mountain Wilderness, is only 25 percent contained.

In addition, firefighters are battling the Uncles complex in both the Marble Mountain and the Trinity Alps Wilderness section of the forest between the Klamath River and Interstate 5. That complex includes the 2,500-acre Rush fire, the 2,880-acre Hancock fire and the 1,915-acre Uncles fire.

The terrain is steep, rugged and rocky, said forest spokesman John Zapell.
"The fire behavior is one of creeping along, the making short runs uphill," he said. "We are taking indirect suppression action because of the terrain.

"What we're doing is going in on ridges and putting in containment lines," he added, citing safety concerns for firefighters on the ground.

"These fires do have the potential to get quite a bit larger," he noted.
With a chance of more lightning today, there is also the potential for more fires to spring up, he said.

Because of concerns for public safety, forest officials have closed the Marble Mountains Wilderness area and some roads and campgrounds immediately outside the wilderness boundary.

The road closures are in an area potentially threatened by the Titus Fire, and are being used by vehicles and equipment assigned to the Happy Camp Complex. The closures will remain in effect until the fires are suppressed.

Equipment Failure Behind California Fire Chopper Crash
JOHN DRISCOLLEureka Times Standard

Part of the tail rotor on a firefighting helicopter fell off moments before it crashed into the Klamath River outside Happy Camp, killing its two pilots, a preliminary report says.
The fatal crash of the Sikorsky CH-54A Skycrane chopper on Aug. 4 was caused by the failure of a spindle connected to the tail rotor gearbox, the National Transportation Safety Board report reads. The report does not point to any human errors being to blame for the malfunction.
The helicopter was flown to Happy Camp on July 29 to help fight the Happy Camp Complex fires, which now total 3,800 acres. Killed in the wreck were Terry "Jake" Jacobs, 48, of Kern County and 38-year-old Andrei Pantchenko of Oregon, both veteran pilots.

No one from the safety board returned repeated calls.

After flying for two hours on Aug. 4, the helicopter returned to the base to refuel and was examined by mechanics. Then it left to begin a second round of firefighting.

"The helicopter conducted one uneventful dip and water drop during the second cycle and was in the process of conducting its second dip when the accident occurred," the report reads.

The helicopter had filled its tanks with water from the Klamath River at the site near Independence Bridge several times that day. On its final run to get water, a witness heard a loud bang, and ran toward the river. When he reached a road next to the river, the report reads, he saw the helicopter flying toward the bridge. A large piece of equipment -- later identified as the gear box -- fell off the chopper, reads the report.

The helicopter's nose pitched sharply forward, and without the tail rotor to counter the torque of the main rotor, the fuselage spun around until it crashed, the report says.

The twin engines of the helicopter transfer power down a series of shafts connected by universal joints to the gear box at the tail. Each tail rotor blade is connected to the gear box by a spindle. In this case, the blade associated with the failed spindle has not been found, according to the report.

On the morning of the accident, the helicopter went through a series of maintenance tests after having an engine replaced the day before. It was cleared by mechanics with chopper owner Heavy Lift Helicopters of Apple Valley and a U.S. Forest Service helicopter manager.

The tail rotor hub was overhauled on Dec. 22, 2005. That included using an X-ray like technique to inspect the spindle, a part that can be reused. The fractured spindle was sent to the safety board's materials laboratory in Washington, D.C.

A military helicopter pilot and maintenance expert consulted by the Times-Standard said that the material failure probably happened without warning -- until the loud bang. The crack in the spindle likely happened after the inspection, the expert said.

A helicopter can safely land after losing its tail rotor section, under certain conditions. The helicopter must be moving forward, possibly as fast as 100 mph. Or, if a tail rotor is lost at a hover, the engine can be idled and the craft settled vertically. But that can be exceptionally difficult in tight conditions like a river canyon, even for experienced pilots.

The Sikorsky CH-65A is considered a workhorse helicopter that first saw military duty in the 1960s. The wrecked chopper was built in 1966, and had been rebuilt and redesigned for firefighting by Heavy Lift Helicopters.

They can carry up to 750 gallons of water, making them valued by firefighting efforts around the world.

Marty Pociask, communications director and editor for Helicopter Association International, said both the CH-54A and Heavy Lift Helicopters have a solid reputation. Flying wildfire duty is unpredictable, and pilots and equipment are constantly operating in less than ideal conditions, Pociask said.

"These guys go out there and risk their lives and do a yeoman's job," Pociask said.
Pociask and others said a final determination by the transportation safety board could take a year or more.

In Memorium: Terry Wayne Jacobs and Andrei Pantchenko
August 13th, 2006

On Friday, August 4th, the pilot and co-pilot of a heavy-lift helicopter were killed battling the Titus Fire, one of eleven fires in the Happy Camp Complex in Northern California.

Terry Wayne Jacobs, 58, of Wofford, California and Andrei Pantchenko, 38, of Burns, Oregon died when their Sikorsky helicopter crashed into the Klamath River approximately 10 miles southwest of Happy Camp along Highway 96. They had been working for Heavy Lift Helicopter Inc. of Apple Valley, Calif.

The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting the investigation, since it was an aircraft accident. More detailed descriptions of the accident may be found here and here.

For descriptions of the Happy Camp Complex Fire see here.

The Northern Arizona Incident Management Team (Type 2) was managing the fire. Command was transferred to the Southern California Type 2 Incident Management Team on August 9th. The NAZ IMT was the team that suppressed the Warm Fire after the Kaibab N.F. punted their Wildland Use Fire designation.

Forest firefighting is a dangerous thing. Everyone who has ever fought a forest fire can tell harrowing tales. But fatalities are rare. Not as rare as everyone would like, however.
Terry Wayne Jacobs and Andrei Pantchenko died in an attempt to save a forest, and to protect the forest firefighters on the ground. We honor their commitment, efforts, and intentions. We mourn their passing. We extend our deepest sympathies to their families and friends. Our prayers are with you.

And maybe, just maybe, if we took better care of our forests, then they would not burst into holocausts so frequently, and maybe we could save some human lives, too.

Investigation by the transportation safety board could take a year or more.

Pilots Killed in Copter Crash at Cal. Wildfire
Posted: 08-07-2006
Updated: 06-14-2007 12:09:44 PM

Two pilots died after a long day battling wildfires when their helicopter suddenly plunged into the Klamath River near the town of Happy Camp on Friday night.

The men, whose bodies were recovered Saturday by the Siskiyou County sheriff's dive team,
worked for a private company under contract with the U.S. Forest Service.

Siskiyou County sheriff's officials, who found the men's bodies about 10 miles from Happy Camp, identified the pilot as Terry Wayne Jacobs, 48, of Wofford. The co-pilot's name will be released after relatives living outside the United States have been notified, spokeswoman Susan Gravenkamp said.

Both men worked for Heavy Lift Helicopters Inc., of Apple Valley in Southern California.
Members of the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash.

The huge Sikorsky helicopter, called a Type-1 by forest officials, was assigned to the Titus fire, one of two fires in the Happy Camp Complex wildfire still burning since lightning sparked nearly a dozen blazes in Siskiyou County two weeks ago.

The aircraft that crashed was one of three helicopters that had been scooping buckets of water from Marble Mountain Wilderness lakes to dump onto the persistent string of wildfires.
The pilots also dropped supplies to fire crews who spent the night in the rugged, barely accessible terrain rather than return to the Happy Camp home base, Gravenkamp said.

Happy Camp Complex fire information officer Niko King said the helicopters are key to fighting the fire. "The contour here is just straight up and down," King said.

The fires are threatening two campgrounds, the Happy Camp watershed, and numerous American Indian cultural and spiritual sites. They have forced complete closure of the Marble Mountain Wilderness, a part of the Klamath National Forest that is popular for hiking, fishing, camping and mule-packing trips.

The section of the Pacific Crest Trail that wends through the area also is closed, but transportation to a detour drop-off is being provided, King said.

About 500 personnel are involved in fighting the Happy Camp Complex wildfire. The Goff fire is nearly suppressed, but the 2,500-acre Titus fire is only 25 percent contained, officials said.
Steep banks line both sides of the Klamath River where the orange and white helicopter went down near Independence Bridge on Highway 96.

The aircraft broke into several pieces, King said, with parts of the rotor strewn in all directions and a large portion of the fuselage in the water that is about 5 feet deep in midsummer.
"Debris is scattered on the east bank and in the water," King said.

A long segment of the river, which is popular with rafters, will remain closed to watercraft and recreational users until the recovery and investigation are complete.

No fixed wing aircraft have worked the fires. Smoke from the Titus and Goff fires grounded the helicopters for part of Thursday but they were back in the air on Friday, King said.

Terry Wayne Jacobs Andrei Pantchenko
U.S. Forest ServiceAugust 4, 2006
On the evening of August 4, 2006, Terry Wayne Jacobs and Andrei Pantchenko were piloting a Sikorsky CH-54 helicopter under contract to the U.S. Forest Service. The pilots were was in the process of conducting its second dip, refilling the aircraft’s water tanks while fighting the Titus Fire, when the crash occurred. Witnesses claimed they saw a large piece fall off the helicopter which was later identified as the tail rotor gearbox with three of the four tail rotor blades attached to the hub. The morning of the crash, the helicopter went through a series of maintenance and flight tests and the evening before the number one engine was replaced. Jacobs is survived by his finance Lucette Evans and his sister Sandra Santrock. He was 48-years old, from Wofford Heights in Kern County California and served two tours in Vietnam. Andrei Pantchenko was 38-years old and from Burns, Oregon. He was originally from Russia.

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