FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --One of the air tankers battling the Shirley Fire was forced to make an emergency landing Sunday night at Fresno Yosemite International Airport at the air attack base.
NTSB investigators are working to figure out what went wrong. So far, the FAA says it appears to be a problem with the hydraulics.
Just after the sun went down Sunday, a 1955 Lockheed P2V-7 vintage air tanker came to a skidding halt.
Patrick Basch with the US Forest Service said, "It looked pretty spectacular because it was nighttime and it threw a lot of sparks from the fuselage and the landing gear just scraping along."
Two people were on board, the pilot and copilot.
Dean Talley was the captain of the plane. Monday morning he returned to the airport to get a closer look at the damage and collect some of his belongings. His wife told Action News although he is experienced and well trained, in three decades, he's had several close calls.
Talley had just finished his last fire retardant drop of the day when he discovered the hydraulic problem. He had planned to return to Porterville, but instead headed to Fresno and radioed in for air emergency.
"And came in and made a beautiful, non-eventful landing right up until the point where the nose wheel comes down and in this case it failed so it- the plane just nosed right down the center line and it stopped," explained Talley.
The runway in Fresno is longer and better in crisis situations. It is also equipped to handle any dramatic rescue or fire emergency.
The pilot is from Chico and works wherever he is called to fight fires. He has been working on a contract since February and will now be taking at least six weeks off.