Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Air Tractor AT-802A, N836MM: Fatal accident occurred September 22, 2020 in Emmett, Gem County, Idaho

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Boise, Idaho
Air Tractor; Olney, Texas
Trotter Controls Inc; Fort Worth, Texas
Aero Seat Inc; Sterling, Colorado 

Location: Emmett, ID 
Accident Number: WPR20LA315
Date & Time: September 22, 2020, 18:30 Local
Registration: N836MM
Aircraft: Air Tractor AT-802A
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Firefighting

On September 22, 2020, about 1830 mountain daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-802A, N836MM, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Emmett, Idaho. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 aerial firefighting flight.

Witness conducting firefighting operations, adjacent the accident site, reported that the accident airplane, a single engine air tanker (SEAT), descended and made an approach similar to the previous SEATs that were dropping fire retardant. The witnesses said the airplane passed over the top of the ridge and descended into the valley, however, the pilot did not drop the fire retardant as previous SEATs did. The witnesses stated he heard a brief application of engine power as the airplane began to ascend over rising terrain at the pilot’s 12 o'clock position. The airplane subsequently impacted rising terrain near the peak of the ridgeline.

A video provided by a witness captured the accident sequence. The recording showed the airplane descend over an intermediate ridgeline and into a valley. About 3 seconds later, the airplane momentarily returned to level flight before it pitched to a nose-high attitude. The airplane subsequently impacted rising terrain approximately 80 feet below the ridgeline.

Examination of the accident site by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the airplane impacted rising terrain. The wreckage debris path continued from the initial impact point over the top of a ridgeline, and extended into a small ravine. The airplane came to rest approximately 100 yards from the initial impact pointe on a heading of 040 degrees. All major structural components of the airplane were located throughout the wreckage debris path. The wreckage was recovered for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Air Tractor 
Registration: N836MM
Model/Series: AT-802A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand air taxi (135)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KMAN,2537 ft msl
Observation Time: 00:35 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 16 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C /5°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 9 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.94 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Ontario, OR (ONO) 
Destination: Emmett, ID

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: Unknown
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 43.843334,-116.41166 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email
Ricky Fulton 

EMMETT, Idaho (CBS2) — A tanker plane crashed Tuesday while fighting a bush fire near Emmett.

The pilot, Ricky Fulton, passed away following the crash.

The plane was owned by Aero S.E.A.T. Incorporated and was on an on-call contract with BLM Fire and Aviation at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. The FAA says Fulton was flying an AT-802.

Firefighters gave Fulton medical attention and called for Life Flight, but his injuries were too severe.

The DOI Office of Aviation Services, along with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, is investigating the accident.

“We offer our sincere condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of the pilot lost in this tragic accident," said Tanya Thrift, acting Boise District manager. "This reminds us of the inherent risks involved in wildland firefighting and the gratitude we owe to the courageous and committed men and women who serve willingly to protect lives, property, and natural resources.”

Governor Brad Little said Wednesday that he's ordered flags to be flown at half-staff.

“Tragically, a firefighter died when the single engine air tanker he was flying crashed during initial attack operations on the Schill Fire near Emmett Tuesday. Our hearts are heavy."

"The death of a firefighter is felt deeply and emotionally in the firefighting community. Pray for comfort for the pilot's family and colleagues, and please do your part to prevent needless wildfires. I am ordering American flags and State of Idaho flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the brave firefighter who lost his life protecting others.”

The 30-acre fire, labeled the Schill Fire, was contained by 10 p.m. It started at 4:30 p.m. and ran in grass and brush in steep terrain.


  1. A tough job. A very tough job.
    Thanks for your service fighting fires, Pilot Fulton!

  2. Way too many Ag and firefighter pilot losses this year! Thank you for your service to saving humanity. So sorry for the family of this firefighter hero.