United States Navy. TBM-3. Construction #: 3369
Daro Inc., San Clemente, CA. Registered as N9078Z. Flew as tanker #E98, 1963-1970. Landed wheels up at Oroville Municipal Airport, Oroville, CA, on 2 September 1964, with minor damage [NTSB Report].
Sis-Q Flying Service, Santa Rosa, CA
#E26 N9078Z 1970-1974
Aerial Spray Program – NB, Quebec
Based on the Department of Transport accident card below, this aircraft was operated by Evergreen Air Service Ltd., the successor to Wheeler Airlines. This means that the Sis-Q owned Avenger was operated by Evergreen under a licensing agreement.
1971 – Flew as #E26. Pilot Gerald Leroy Sward. Forced landing – In 18 June 1971, it made a forced wheels-up landing after developing engine problems in a swampy area called Babbitt’s Meadows 3 mi west of the town of Gagetown (Queens County, NB) while forest spraying in the Canadian Forces Base Gagetown area. It was retrieved by soldiers at the base as a military exercise and brought to the Fredericton Airport. There was little visual damage except a ruptured bomb tank and a blown engine. A “new” engine and prop were hung on the aircraft and tanker E-25 was flown back to California.
The Department of Transport accident card adds more details. “While engaged in a forest spraying operation and at the completion of a spray run, while positioning for another run, excessive engine vibration suddenly occurred. Thick black smoke and fire was seen to come from the engine compartment. [The] pilot decided to put down in the nearest field, which was tough swampland. Wheels-up landing.”
Regarding the actual location, the St. John River in this area comprises many wet, grassy swamps, which are called “meadows”. Babbitts Meadows is a named location on the south side of the river, 10 km east of Oromocto, the headquarters of CFB Gagetown. This puts the actual location described above further away from the town of Gagetown and closer to Oromocto, and in Sunbury County, not Queens.
1972 – Flew in Quebec. Pilot Cranford. 1973-1974 – Did not fly in NB. Sis-Q Flying Service Inc. sold #E26 to Forest Protection Limited in 1974, one of 5 in total.
Forest Protection Limited, Fredericton, NB
#E26 C-GLEI 1974-1975
Aerial Spray Program – NB
1974 – FPL purchased #E26 in late 1974 from Sis-Q Flying Service Inc., Santa Rosa, California. (FPL also operated TBM #26 FIMV.)
1975 – Dry leased from Evergreen Air Service. Not in list of spray aircraft for the year, as it crashed before the spray program began. Crashed 8 May 1975, prior to the start of the spray season. TBM #E26 C-GLEI piloted by John Inman and owned by FPL experienced engine failure while on approach to Dunphy Airstrip after ferrying from Fredericton. The TBM ditched into the river and sank, partially submerged. Pilot Inman was uninjured. The aircraft was a complete write-off and was destroyed during retrieval.