Another ski trip gone bad. A small airplane flying towards the Butte Airport and only 500 feet away from its destination nose-dived and crashed.
The small plane crashed into a cemetery, Holy Cross Cemetery, today. There were approximately 14 to 17 passengers. Some of these passengers are believed to have been children.
The cause of the crash has not been determined as of yet. Kristi Dunks said, “We are just beginning our investigation. We don’t have a lot of information at this time. Certain family members were contacted. At this point, I don’t have an exact number.”
Mike Fergus, Spokeman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said that the plane crashed and burned while attempting to land. Fergus went on to saying that the plane had departed from Oroville, California with a destination to Bozeman, approximately 85 miles southeast of Butte. However, the pilot changed his destination to Butte at some point in time.
Although there are no known fatalities on the ground, Fergus added that preliminary reports indicate the dead included numerous children.
At the gas station next to the Holy cross Cemetery their stood Martha and Steve Guidoni who said that the plane, “just nose-dived into the ground.” Martha said, “My husband went over there to see if he could do anything.”
Fergus also said that the plane was registered to Eagle Cap Leasing Inc. in Enterprise, Oregon. At this time he doesn’t know who was operating the plane. The president of Eagle Cap could not be reached by phone. The plane was a Pilatus PC-12 which was manufactured in 2001 and certified for 12 passengers.
Dunks said, “We are still gathering the information of the aircraft, it’s purpose, what they were doing and where they were going.”
The flight for this plane originated at Brown Field Municipal airport in San Diego on Saturday afternoon and then headed to Redlands, California. From Redlands it left to Vacaville, California on Sunday according to the Flight Aware, a website that tracks air traffic. The plane then flew to Oroville, California to then fly to Butte. The NTSB could not confirm this information.
Tom Hagler, owner of Table Mountain Aviation in California, said that on Sunday morning he saw twelve children with four adults at the Oroville Municipal Airport which is about 70 miles north of Sacramento. Hagler let the children which ranges in ages from 6 to 10 use the restroom in his building. Hager described the children by saying “There were a lot of kids in the group. A lot of really cute kids.”
Hager said he showed the pilot of the plane where he could refuel his plane. The pilot said he expected his flight to be about 2 1/2 hours long but he did not file a flight plan at the Oroville airport.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are expected to arrive in Butte either late Sunday or early Monday said Keith Holloway.