Rocky Mountain Metro, CO, USA (KBJC) - Neptune Accident, 26 June 2010

Along with two P-3s from Aero Union a pair of P2V Neptunes from Neptune Aviation Services in Missoula, Montana have been fighting two large fires; the Cow Creek Fire in the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Round Mountain Fire west of Loveland in Colorado the last couple of days. Paul Filmer reports on the aftermath of an accident.

On Saturday 26th June 2010 PV2-5 Neptune N1386C (tanker 44) landed on runway 29R at Rocky Mountain Metro Airport and experienced control issues with steering and brakes. The crew managed to guide the aircraft off fast taxi exit A-13 but could not stop the aircraft before it punched through the perimeter fence and down a small embankment. Initial thoughts are that the hydraulic system is the possible culprit.

The number one engine (left) had a small fire that was quickly extinguished by the airport fire tenders and both crew escaped unharmed via the cockpit roof escape hatches. The following day the aircraft was supported from the front by a crane with cradle, while a large tow truck pulled the aircraft back into the airport and into a hangar to be inspected by the NTSB and Neptune Aviation.

N1386C and her sister-ships are regular visitors to Colorado in the wildfire season and Neptune Aviation keep these aircraft in immaculate condition. Unlike some ex-operators Neptune Aviation elected to keep the outboard jet engines attached and in use on the P2V, and these are used during take-off and on the climb-out and departure after dropping their retardant loads for safety reasons. They elected to pay the penalty in useful load which is something the pilots tell me they would never fly without.

It's certainly strange to hear both radial and jet engine sounds coming from a single aircraft. The jet engines are very basic and run on Avgas rather than Avtur making the fueling process simpler.

Hopefully this aircraft, named "My Friend, April" will be repaired and live to save more lives in the future.

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