United States Navy. TBM-3E. Construction #: 2673
Johnson Flying Service, Missoula, MT
#D7 #A7 N7015C 1963-1974
Aerial Spray Program – NB
1971, 1972 – Pilot Komberec. 1974 – Johnson Flying Service sold #A7 to FPL.
Forest Protection Limited, Fredericton, NB
#A7 C-GLEQ 1974-1977
Aerial Spray Program – NB
1974 – FPL purchased GLEQ in 1974 from Johnson Flying Service, Missoula, Montana, then dry leased it from Evergreen Air Services of Montreal. Did not fly for FPL in 1974. 1975 – Dry leased. Pilots Green and Gummer. 1976 – Dry leased. Pilot Potter.
1977 – Crashed 23 June 1977 PM. TBM #A7 C-GLEQ piloted by Richard “Dick” Potter and owned by FPL (out of Dunphy Airstrip) caught fire on final approach to Dunphy when returning from an evening spray mission, having sprayed the complete load without incident. The aircraft crashed into the Southwest Miramichi River near the end of the runway, killing the pilot instantly.
Smith’s history of Johnson Flying Service (Fly the Biggest Piece Back) includes an abbreviated version of an article (“Dick Potter would not have changed places,” pg. 278-279) he wrote in The Missoulian on 26 June 1977 about Dick Potter’s crash of TBM #A7 in the Miramichi River beside Dunphy Airstrip while several Johnson TBMs were spraying budworm for FPL. This Johnson TBM had recently been sold to FPL, and was registered as C-GLEQ. Here are some passages from the article:
Thursday, presumably, had been a day not unlike many others in the lives of [Ray] Green and Potter. The two — along with Bill Deming, another former Johnson TBM pilot who had been with Greene and Potter in Maine four years and 19 days earlier — had been spraying mornings and evenings. The day’s last run had been made and, as Deming told Missoula pilot Jack Hughes in a telephone conversation Friday, the three were returning to their base, … Dunphy airstrip.
Deming landed and taxied off the runway to allow Potter to land. Greene was still in the air but within sight of the strip. Potter was approaching the runway and, from Greene’s vantage point, things appeared normal.
Suddenly, with Potter’s TBM still several feet off the ground, heavy smoke belched from near the front of the plane. Deming, seeing the smoke from the ground, shouted to Potter on the radio, telling him to get the airplane on the runway.
Although his reasons will never be known for sure, Potter chose another course of action. Gunning his airplane’s 1,950-horsepower Wright engine, he pulled out of his approach. He was banking left, presumably to make another approach, when the TBM stalled. The plane flipped over and plunged into the Miramichi River, according to an AP [Associated Press] account. Potter’s body reportedly was recovered about 1 a.m. Friday.
The plane that carried Dick Potter to his death was, according to his wife, his favorite TBM. Its N number was 7015 Charlie, its Forest Service designation A7 in the years it was flown by Johnson pilots. Jack (Hughes) called Alpha Seven “Dick’s plane,” Mrs. Potter said. “He’d flown it for 12 years for Johnson’s.” … Potter had logged more that 1200 hours in it, both in spraying and fire-retardant work.
More crash images have recently surfaced, posted by James R. Greene, son of pilot Ray Greene, to Forest Protection Limited Alumni on 26 Oct 2016.