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On March 23, 1997, approximately 1300 mountain standard time, N22219, a Cessna T210L, collided with terrain on Maurer Mountain, about 21 miles south of Dillon, Montana. The private pilot and his three passengers were fatally injured. The pleasure flight's destination was Ely, Nevada, for a fueling stop before continuing to Yuma, Arizona. The flight had departed Bozeman, Montana, at 1217, and was on a VFR flight plan. There was no fire, and the ELT was destroyed by impact forces.
The aircraft wreckage was located on the morning of March 25, by referring to radar information, after the aircraft was determined to be missing. Weather in the area was described as broken showers and squalls. During on scene investigation, no pre-crash mechanical discrepancies were noted. No witnesses who saw the accident were found, although a written statement was provided by an individual who reported hearing an airplane in the vicinity at the time of the accident. This witness was on top of a mountain above Pipe Organ Rock, further identified as where airway beacon #30 is located, just west of interstate highway I-15, approximately 12 miles southwest of Dillon, Montana, and 24 miles northwest (true) of the accident site. An airplane was heard that was believed to be heading south. "After a short period of silence, maybe 3 to five min[utes], then we heard it again, still at high rpms. This time it appeared to be going south down I-15 or the same direction the hwy runs, then by the sound it turned about even with the beacon and went towards the mountain southeast of I-15 where the 3 buildings that house the radio relay equipment are. I looked up towards the building site but it was completely cloud covered. In fact I couldn't even see the top of Clark canyon. We never heard it after that. I feel sure that this was probably the plane that went down....
"The weather that day was very windy with larg\e clouds moving by all day. Some time you could see good. Maybe in just a few min. you couldn't see at all for any distance."
Radar data indicated that a radar target with a VFR transponder code (1200) and no altitude encoder response, was on a southwesterly heading in the vicinity, around the time of the accident. The last radar response on that target was at 1248:57, about 10 miles north (true) of the accident site.
The accident site was snow-covered, with about 1-2 feet of snow on the surface at the time of the accident, with no distinguishing vegetation, rocks, or other characteristics that could distinguish the surface. The elevation was 8360 feet MSL, according to GPS, and the slope was measured to be 6 degrees upslope from the initial impact point.
According to the pilot's logbook, he had flown 3 hours in the airplane in March. His total recorded flight time since his flight review in March 17, 1996, was 21 hours, all in the accident airplane. There was no indication in the logbook of instrument flight time since 1995.
The pilot was issued a waiver statement of demonstrated ability noting limited function and motion of lower right extremity, on March 21, 1984.
The airplane was equipped with dual vacuum pumps.
The pilot called Great Falls AFSS approximately 1028 and received an abbreviated weather briefing for a VFR flight from Bozeman to Yuma, Arizona. He was advised at that time that the only meteorological problem was in the Bozeman area with mountain obscuration which was expected to clear that morning and afternoon. He was advised of a cold front in eastern Montana which was forecast to move out of the state by afternoon, with some scattered snow and rain showers activity behind it. He was advised that he could expect to be out of the weather soon, with everything looking good from the Montana border south, as far as weather was concerned.
Approximately 1125, the pilot called and filed a flight plan for seven hours time en route to Yuma, with a one-hour fuel stop en route at Ely, Nevada. He noted that he had received a weather briefing earlier that day, and reported that he had four hours of fuel on board.
There was no evidence that the pilot received further weather briefing between 1028 and the time of the flight. The local sheriff reported that there were snow squalls and heavy snow in the area at the time of the accident.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The aircraft wreckage was located on snow-covered open mountainous terrain at N44.54.439, W 112.42.076, about two miles northwest of Monument Hill, which is at 8188' MSL (mean sea level). The site was about 83 nautical miles southwest (216 degrees magnetic) of Bozeman. The wreckage distribution path was about 380 feet long, along a heading of 121 degrees magnetic. The ground scars initiated with a ground impact which appeared to be the left wing. The initial signatures were followed by a crater at the 20 foot point, with the left hand wing tip adjacent to the crater, followed over the next 60 feet by the left hand wing filler cap, baggage door, propeller blade, left hand wing section with stall warning vane, right hand wing tip pieces, and another propeller blade. The turbocharger was located at the 160' point. At the 200' point, the vacuum pump, engine, and a section of the right hand wing, were located. The main wreckage was at the 360' point, with the furthest wreckage noted to be about 390 feet from the initial ground scars.
The main wreckage included the fuselage, tail surfaces, and inboard sections of the wings (inboard of the flap-aileron juncture). The tailcone and tail surfaces were inverted, with extensive leading edge damage to the horizontal surfaces and vertical surfaces. The fuselage forward of the tail surfaces was extensively crushed with the cabin section indefinable.
The airplane was equipped with two vacuum pumps. Both were disassembled and inspected; both had shattered rotors.
An autopsy of the pilot was performed by Dr. D. C. Lehfeldt for the Beaverhead county coroner's office. Toxicological testing was performed by the FAA with negative results for carbon monoxide and cyanide.
The Safety Board did not take possession of the wreckage.