Friday, November 06, 2020

Cessna 337F Super Skymaster, N337V: Fatal accident occurred July 30, 2020 in Ennis, Madison County, Montana

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. 

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities: 

Aviation Safety Inspector; Helena, Montana
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama 

Red Devil Skymasters LLC

Location: Ennis, MT
Accident Number: WPR20LA245
Date & Time: 07/30/2020, 0938 MDT
Registration: N337V
Aircraft: Cessna 337
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Business 

On July 30, 2020, about 0938 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 337F, N337V, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Ennis, Montana. The pilot was critically injured, one passenger was seriously injured, and one passenger was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight.

The flight departed Helena Regional Airport (HLN), Helena, Montana on a business trip about 0845. Its destination was Jackson Hole Airport (JAC), Jackson Hole, Wyoming, about 185 nautical miles (nm) south-southeast of HLN. About 1032, the Madison County Sheriff's Dispatch office received a 911 call from one of the surviving passengers, who stated that they had crashed, and that the accident site was near Ennis Lake.

About 1600 on the afternoon of the accident, the wreckage was located about 5 nm west-southwest of Ennis Lake in the Gallatin National Forest, at an altitude of about 7,597 ft mean sea level; this was about 75 nm south-southeast of HLN, the departure airport. First responders reported that it appeared that the entire airplane was accounted for at the accident site.

The airplane was recovered to a secure facility for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N337V
Model/Series:337 F 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: EKS, 5423 ft msl
Observation Time: 0955 MDT
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 8°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  8 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.37 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Unknown
Departure Point: Ennis, MT (HLN)
Destination: Jackson Hole, WY (JAC)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire:None 
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 45.390000, -111.558056 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Reef Hogan guesses the odds of being in a plane crash are about one in a million.

Those chances are actually closer to one in 11 million, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Just a few months after crawling from the plane crash that put him in the hospital and killed his father, Reef already has aims to get back into the air.

“He told me, ‘You have to be strong in a world that’s weak,’” said the 16-year-old from his home in Billings, where he is living with his mother and grandparents.

On July 30, Reef, his father and their flight instructor took off from Helena Regional Airport on a clear morning bound for Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Less than an hour after takeoff, their Cessna 337 Skymaster spiraled into the mountains near Ennis Lake. The impact cracked the plane open, stranding the three passengers in the Gallatin National Forest.

“I can remember everything,” Reef said.

He can remember seeing the flight instructor, who was piloting the plane, flying out of the left seat of the cockpit as the plane hit trees. He can remember the smell of oil mixing with pine at the crash site. And, he remembers the last conversation he had with his father, Brandon Hogan.

“He said, ‘I love you son.’ And I said, ‘I love you, too.’”

Although both he and the flight instructor survived, neither was in any condition to trek through the forest. Hogan’s ankle had swollen larger than a grapefruit, and the flight instructor suffered a compound fracture to one of his legs. Hogan used his own belt as a tourniquet for the pilot.

Brandon Hogan, 52, did not survive the crash, but his cell phone ensured that his son would. Looking through his father’s flight bag, he found the phone. With just 9% left on its battery life, he managed to reach a Madison County dispatcher. While they waited for rescue, the young flight instructor wondered out loud how Reef could forgive him.

“It was very touching, and I’ve got no hate toward him. He’s a good guy and just in his early 20s. We’ve stayed in contact and both said that a plane crash isn’t going to stop us,” Reef said.

After five hours, Reef was in the air again in a rescue basket dropped by a Life Flight helicopter.

“They don’t warn you how dizzy you can get in one of those,” Reef said.

Reef eventually landed in Bozeman. To treat his injuries, staff in the Bozeman emergency room cut through the flight suit Reef was wearing — his father’s flight suit that he wore to keep warm after the crash. The flight suit, along with everything in it, went into a plastic bag. That plastic bag went into a landfill. Those treating Reef didn’t realize that they had thrown away a piece of Brandon Hogan that his son wanted to keep, his father's Rolex watch.

When Reef woke up from spinal surgery, he asked Dr. Ben Smith what happened to his flight suit, his wallet and his father’s watch. Smith, whose own father died when he was in 8th grade, looked through Reef’s room, then he made calls to search through the crash site and the helicopter that brought Reef to Bozeman.

“When I heard ‘We think it may have gone out with the trash,’…before I knew it, I was driving faster than I probably should have to the dump,” Smith said.

With family members and a hospital staff member, Smith plucked through mounds of trash at a local dump for several hours. A safety officer helped guide their search, while another employee operated a plow. About 10 feet deep into a pile of garbage, Smith said he spotted the flight suit. He felt something heavy inside the left breast pocket.

“That was more gratifying than any surgery I’ve ever done,” Smith said.

A video posted to Facebook by Reef’s mother, Kelly Kriskovich Hogan, shows Smith handing the Rolex to him while he laid in a hospital bed. He also held the bag containing the ripped and bloodied flight suit. 

“What a blessing it was to have Dr. Smith. We were there until the morning of the funeral for his father, and Dr. Smith offered to drive Reef to the funeral. I had no idea how to care for him as far as transferring him from the hospital to car,” Kelly Hogan said.

Reef has screws in his body now, in his ankle and back. The impact of the crash shattered his heel and ankle, fractured two of his vertebrae and cracked his sternum. While he suffered no head trauma, he went into the Bozeman hospital room with a cut above his eye. His right arm still carries scars from lacerations.

Kelly Hogan launched a GoFundMe page for her son’s recovery. Insurance offered through her employer did not begin until two days after the accident, leaving her and her family with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills to pay. To date, it has raised about $13,000.

Although he needed a walker to attend high school classes three days a week since coming to Billings, Reef has since transitioned to a wooden cane. Along with classwork, he has physical therapy sessions and counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder. He said he should be physically recovered by July of next year, and he should also be back inside of a cockpit.

After testing out of high school, Reef said he’ll enroll in the aviation program at Rocky Mountain College to continue his ambition of becoming a pilot.

“I want to go back up to their hangar and visit sometime. There’s a special feeling about being in a hangar…It’s just comfortable…I want my own airplane, a little runway and a tiny house with a hangar,” Reef said.

In following his father’s passion for flying, Reef will become a fourth-generation pilot. Brandon Hogan, a former student at Rocky Mountain College, used his career as a film producer to go from piloting his grandfather’s de Havilland Chipmunk to flying in a U-2 spy plane. His career took him to Afghanistan and Iraq, where he made a documentary about helicopter pilots for the 1st Air Calvalry Brigade, and he also had a chance to introduce his son to astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

"It's a disease," Brandon Hogan told the Gazette in 2008 after speaking to students at Rocky Mountain College. "I fell in love with flying and never deviated from the course."

Reef Hogan of Billings.

Reef's father, Brandon Hogan, pictured in the middle.

Reef Hogan is obsessed with flying, even though he is still recovering from numerous injuries he suffered in a plane crash last summer, including a broken ankle, broken heel and back fractures.

“When it comes to high school and that, I’m not the best. But when it comes to aviation, I love it,” the 16-year-old from Billings says.

It might seem surprising that he feels that way, considering what happened the last time he was in an airplane.

Reef, his father and the pilot were on a trip from Helena to Jackson Hole in a 1971 Cessna 337 Skymaster late last July when the engine stalled as they approached a mountain range in Madison County.

“We weren’t high enough to recover from a stall like that. My Dad just said, 'Reef hold on.' I didn’t say anything. I was just like, 'Oh God.' And he said, 'I love you son,' and I just said, 'I love you too, Dad.'”

Seconds later, the plane crashed into trees on the side of the mountain and tore wide open.

“The pilot on the left seat goes flying out. It was kind of hard to tell what happened to my Dad,” Reef said.

Reef’s father, Brandon Hogan, died in the crash. Brandon Hogan had a military and government background and worked in the film and movie industry.

“He met people that hardly anybody got to meet. When I was four, he introduced me and my brother to astronaut Buzz Aldrin because he was friends with him back then,” Reef recalled.

Reef credits his father for teaching him to stay strong and push through any situation. He found himself in an unimaginable one on that mountain. His father dead—and the pilot injured and in shock.

“I thought, I’ve got to save him if he is still alive. So I took my belt off and used it as a tourniquet on his leg so he wouldn’t bleed out. And I crawled back over and lied down and looked around. Because over by Ennis, that’s bear country up on that mountain,” said Reef.

Fortunately, Reef was able to find his father’s phone—and somehow get a signal to call 911.

“The phone only had nine percent left on it. And I somehow got a hold of them. I just talked to the lady and said we are up in a plane crash southwest of Ennis Lake and I think my dad is dead. The pilot is still alive and I’m still alive,” he said.

Reef and the pilot spent another five hours at the crash site before rescuers could finally reach them. While he was lying there, waiting, he found his father’s Rolex watch lying on the ground next to him.

While Reef went to the hospital, where he stayed for almost a month, his clothes were cut off him- with the watch inside- and accidentally sent to the landfill.

And that’s where his spinal surgeon, Dr. Ben Smith, comes in. Smith later delivered the watch, a wallet, and Reef’s clothes to him in the hospital after searching through the landfill to find them.

“I almost cried because of it. He lost his dad when he was young too, so he felt a connection. He went to a landfill for his about three hours outside of Bozeman with his family and his friends,” said Reef.

“It was a miracle that they even found it in that landfill,” said Reef’s mom, Kelly, who was touched by the effort.

And it’s also a miracle that Reef survived to tell his story. He says he plans to chase his dreams—like his father did—and that includes flying an airplane.

“I want to get back up and flying again. I know what happens if I get into another one, but I don’t plan to,” he said.

Reef's mother had recently started a new job when her son was injured, and her insurance didn't go into effect until two days after the crash. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with expenses.

After the plane crashed, Reef found his dad's watch. He stuck the watch and his wallet in the pockets of his clothes. When he was in the ER, they cut off his clothes and threw them in the garbage. The surgeon was upset about this as he knew how important that watch would be for Reef. You see, the surgeon lost his dad when he was in 8th grade. The video is the outcome:

1 comment:

  1. Okay, I'm confused by the events outlined (was it a single-engine experimental conversion?), but it is an unfortunately common outcome for Sky-smashers.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.