WALKER — The air tanker that crashed killing three crew members fighting a Sierra Nevada wildfire had undergone repairs to fix wing cracks, a representative for the plane’s owner said Tuesday.
The C-130A Hercules under contract with the Forest Service had just completed a pass over the blaze when its wings snapped off and the fuselage plunged to the ground Monday and burst into a ball of flames in the town of Walker.
Hawkins & Powers Aviation Inc. notified the Federal Aviation Administration in April 1998 that an inspection discovered two 1-inch cracks in the surface or “skin” of one of the wings of the plane made by Lockheed, an FAA document obtained by The Associated Press shows.
The damage was repaired and no problems had been reported since, a company employee said Tuesday night.
The 46-year-old air tanker passed its last major inspection in October.
“All I can tell you is there were some wing repairs done to the aircraft. I don’t know the extent of that,” said Diane Nuttall, an administrative assistant at Hawkins & Powers in Greybull, Wyo.