President of Neptune Aviation in Missoula Dan Snyder says he is devastated over the loss of two good friends who were killed in a plane crash Sunday afternoon while fighting a fire in Utah. In this conversation, Snyder talks about the impact of Sunday’s accident on the Neptune family, and how Neptune works with the U. S. Forest Service to fight wildfires all over the country.

In the conversation, Snyder describes the P2V7 aircraft, and why it was perfectly suited for fire fighting. He expresses his excitement over the new jet aircraft that is currently proving itself fighting fires in New Mexico.

Snyder says he, his employees and his family are all deeply grateful for the outpouring of support from the people of Missoula. The conversation with Dan Snyder can be heard by clicking below.

In addition, the company released the following statement.
Missoula, Montana
On June 3, 2012, Neptune Aviation Services of Missoula, Montana experienced a
fatal aircraft accident while performing aerial firefighting activities in western Utah.

Captain Todd Tompkins and First Officer Ron Chambless were flying Tanker 11, a Lockheed P2V-7, when the aircraft made contact with the ground while flying in the active fire drop zone. The aircraft was dispatched from the Cedar City, Utah airtanker base to the White Rock Fire near the
Utah-Nevada state line.  Neither crewmember survived the accident.

Captain Tompkins had 20 years of aviation experience with 14 years as an airtanker pilot.  He
faithfully served Neptune Aviation since 2006. First Officer Chambless had 8 years of aviation experience with many years in wildland firefighting.  This was his first fire season with Neptune Aviation.

In accordance with company policy, Neptune Aviation implemented a voluntary stand-down of its fleet in order for the Director of Flight Operations and Director of Maintenance to debrief all crewmembers and mechanics before releasing the fleet back to active duty.

We want to take this opportunity to send our thoughts to Minden Air and the crewmembers of Tanker 55.  We are so grateful that those involved did not sustain injuries.

For more information, please contact Mike Pfau.  At this time, Neptune Aviation is unable to
comment as to any accident specifics.  The investigation has been turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board. Neptune continues to work closely with the United States Forest
Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and local authorities.

Neptune Aviation Services was incorporated in May 1993 after purchasing the assets of Black Hills Aviation of Alamogordo, New Mexico. Upon acquiring its fleet and personnel, Neptune relocated its main base of operation to Missoula, Montana, substantially increasing in size and capabilities.  Currently, Neptune has a mixed fleet of Lockheed P2V and British Aerospace BAe-146 aircraft.

“Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with all the family and friends of those impacted by this event.  Todd and Ronnie were truly considered a part of our family and they will
be deeply missed.” – Kristen Nicolarsen, CEO of Neptune Aviation.