Small Plane Crashes in Montana


BUTTE, Montana—A private single-engine turboprop airplane nose-dived into a cemetery, 500 feet from its destination, killing all aboard at 3:26pm on Sunday.

A witness believed the plane was a stunt plane because of all the jerks and turns the pilot was making. The witness guesses that the pilot may have lot control of the plane after quickly jerking it to the left and not pulling up in time.

Karen Byrd, a Federal Aviation Administration operations officer in Renton, Washington, confirmed the death toll at 14. Half of those victims were children.

The plane stopped at the Oroville airport at about 11a.m. PT, refueled and departed about half an hour later.

Mike Fertgus, an FAA spokesman, said the pilot had filed a flight plan destined for Bozeman, Montana, approximately 85 miles southeast of Butte, after departure from Oroville, California. Apparently the pilot then canceled his flight plan and headed for Butte.

The plane was a Pilatus PC-12 and was said to be taking all aboard to a ski trip in Montana, perhaps for the kids.

A California newspaper reported that a family of five from St. Helena, California, including three preschoolers, were among the victims. A mechanic at a California airport said about a dozen children were on board.

It is unknown whether the extra people aboard was a factor in the crash, since seven of the victims were children.

No cause of the crash was given.

One man and his wife were driving by when they saw the plane crash straight into the ground. They went to help, thinking perhaps they could pull someone out of the fire. There were no bodies, just seat cushions and luggage. The largest piece of the plane recovered, the size of a kitchen table, was found in a wooded area of Holy Cross Cemetery.

The National Weather Service said that at the time of the crash it was partly cloudy, with visibility at 10 miles and wind blowing from the northwest around 10mph.

Preliminary information indicates the pilot did not declare an emergency aboard the plane before the crash.

Markus Kaelin, the executive assistant to the chairman of Pilatus Aircraft in Switzerland, said the company had no comment.

NTSB investigator Kristi Dunks would not say if there had been a distress call from the pilot.


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