Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, N5989Z: Accident occurred December 16, 2014 near Ronan Airport (7S0), Montana


NTSB Identification: WPR15FA062
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, December 16, 2014 in Ronan, MT
Aircraft: PIPER PA 18-150, registration: N5989Z
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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 December 16, 2014, about 1615 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, N5989Z, impacted a hill while maneuvering in Ronan, Montana. The rear-seated passenger was operating the airplane under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The front-seated commercial pilot was fatally injured and the passenger sustained serious injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The local personal flight departed Ronan Airport, Ronan, Montana about 1600. Daytime visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed.

The passenger was a student pilot and had purchased the airplane September 30, 2014. He had recently purchased a new propeller for the airplane and the pilot, who was additionally a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificated mechanic, installed the propeller just prior to the accident flight. 

Numerous witnesses reported observing the airplane maneuvering at a low altitude a few minutes prior to the accident. One witness recalled hearing the airplane's engine accelerate and rev higher just prior to the impact. Another witness stated that he observed the airplane perform several erratic maneuvers where it was low to the ground and would rapidly climb and descend similar to an agricultural operation (crop dusting). 

The airplane wreckage was located on a steep hillside slope about 100 feet below the peak. The accident site was about 5 nautical miles (nm) from Ronan Airport on a bearing of about 295 degrees. The wreckage came to rest on a hillside in the Valley View Hills, which is the most easterly elevated terrain from the valley where both the towns of Pablo and Ronan are located. The surrounding area was sparsely populated. There were ground scar signatures in the terrain, consistent with the propeller and left wing tip colliding with terrain at the initial impact. These first identified impact points were about 75 feet from the main wreckage on a bearing of 015 degrees and located on a 45-degree slope. The airplane's wreckage was found inverted with the nose headed upslope.

The airplane was recovered for further examination.

KALISPELL - The lone survivor of a plane crash west of Pablo last week has been flown to Seattle Harborview Medical Center where doctors are working to treat his serious injuries.

Staff at Harborview tell MTN News that Ronan resident Tim Schaus remains in stable, but serious condition and has numerous broken bones and a compressed spine.

Lake County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Karen Sergeant says the plane wreckage was removed from the hillside on Friday and taken to Missoula, where the National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the crash.

It could be up to a year before any information is released by the NTSB as to why the aircraft went down.

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