NTSB Identification: WPR13FA288
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, June 24, 2013 in Helena, MT
Aircraft: BEECH J35, registration: N8255D
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On June 24, 2013, about 1205 mountain daylight time, a Beech J35 airplane, N8255D, sustained substantial damage following impact with terrain while maneuvering about 10 nautical miles north of Helena, Montana. The airplane was operated by Vetter Aviation of Helena. The certified private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight, which was being operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, and a flight plan was not filed. The local flight departed the Helena Regional Airport (HLN), about 1150.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector, who responded to the accident site, provided the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) with two witness statements. The first witness reported that he first heard the airplane when its engine suddenly “changed pitch and sped up.” He then looked up and saw a single-engine, low-wing airplane in a nose down attitude slowly spinning. The witness stated that he observed probably 5 spins before the airplane disappeared [out of sight]. A second witness, who was standing in the backyard of his house, reported that he heard “the props of a small plane struggling twice,” and that he thought he heard a “bang” on impact.

An initial onsite examination of the airplane by the NTSB IIC and the FAA inspector revealed that the aircraft had impacted flat, open pasture terrain in a left wing low, nose down attitude, on a measured magnetic heading of 090 degrees. Ground scars were consistent with a high energy vertical impact. The examination further revealed that all components necessary for flight were accounted for at the accident site.

The airplane was recovered to a secured location for further examination.

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