Stand 1 - T56
From Stand 1, you can look up at the crash site of air tanker T56. From this location, you can see the road to the Rulison blast site. This was the site of a 43-kilo ton atomic blast, 8,426 feet below the surface, which was conducted as part of the Operation Plowshare project on September 10, 1969. The blast was part of a program to convert the government's 27 nuclear programs into one of various peacetime uses of atomic power. At the time of the fire, there were still large amounts of equipment and two aboveground storage tanks on site. Each tank contained explosive vapors and low-level radioactive materials. Additionally, the well had been plugged at the top and bottom, but had not yet been cemented.
T56 was a converted military B-26, adapted to fire suppression activities. It was flown from Denver to Grand Junction on July 15, 1976, and assigned to work with two other air tankers on the Battlement Creek Fire. On Friday morning, July 16, 1976, all three planes were assigned to continue working on the Battlement Creek Fire. The first plane arrived to the fire at approximately 0735. T56 was the third plane to arrive at about 0840. T56 circled the fire as the lead plane flew the desired flight path. Both the lead plane and T56 flew south into the large bowl. It was determined that T56 never completed its turn prior to impacting the ridge. The pilot did jettison the retardant load just prior to impact.
At 0855, pilot Donald Goodman of Missoula, Montana, was killed.
As a result of the impact, a fire was started and involved approximately 1 acre of scrub oak. The Line Boss and the Sawtooth Interregional Crew worked the fire resulting from the air tanker crash.
Tanker operations were halted after the accident and not resumed until the following day.
The main fire camp was located up toward the flag and down amongst the aspens. There were several hotshot and Snake River Valley crews that had just come off the July 15th night shift that must have been filtering into camp at the time of this accident.