Friday, July 02, 2021

Cessna 172R Skyhawk, N2388L: Fatal accident occurred July 01, 2021 near Missoula International Airport (KMSO), 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. 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Helena, Montana

Valley Fliers Inc

Location: Missoula, MT 
Accident Number: WPR21FA258
Date & Time: July 1, 2021, 11:49 Local
Registration: N2388L
Aircraft: Cessna 172R
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On July 1, 2021, about 1149 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 172 airplane, N2388L, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Missoula, Montana. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

Recorded Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) showed that the airplane departed the Missoula International Airport (MSO), Missoula, Montana, at 1141, and proceeded on a southwesterly heading. The data showed that the airplane initiated a right turn to a westerly heading about 1743:11, at an altitude of 3,850 ft mean sea level (msl). The last recorded ADS-B target was at 1147:19, at an altitude of 5,225 ft msl, 68 knots ground speed, on a heading of 271° magnetic, as shown in figure 1. 

There are no known witnesses. The airplane was the subject of a Federal Aviation Administration Alert Notification (ALNOT) issued the day of the accident, and was located later that evening in mountainous terrain about 9 miles west of MSO.

The airplane came to rest on a south-facing slope within a valley, about 3 miles southwest of the last ADS-B target, at an elevation of 4,664 ft msl, and on a magnetic heading of 040°. The first identified point of impact was a severed tree trunk about 30 ft above ground level. The right wing, left horizontal stabilizer, and left elevator were separated and located within the wreckage debris path. The left wing had folded aft midspan and exhibited a semi-circular indentation in the leading edge and spar, near the outboard tip. The main wreckage was composed of the fuselage, left wing, engine, and empennage.

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

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N2388L
Model/Series: 172R 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KMSO
Observation Time: 11:41 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 9 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: 
Altimeter Setting: 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Missoula, MT (MSO)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 46.840465,-114.2859

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

Brian and Carrie Makar Family Funeral & Education

Brian Makar

Carrie Makar

MISSOULA, Montana — A couple from Burien have died in the crash of a single-engine airplane in western Montana, officials said.

The airplane crashed Thursday afternoon about 9 miles (14 kilometers) southwest of the Missoula airport shortly after takeoff, Jennifer Gabris, spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), told the Missoulian.

The crash claimed the lives of the pilot, Brian J. Makar, 42, and his wife, Carrie R. Makar, 43, of Burien, Washington, Missoula County Sheriff and Coroner TJ McDermott said.

John La Porta, Brian Makar’s flight instructor, told KIRO 7 that Makar began flying in 2016.

“He was a good pilot. He was very meticulous, very detailed,” La Porta said.

Having spent more than 50 in-flight hours together, La Porta said Makar had become more than a student.

“He started flying here, and then he brought Carrie down, and they were just two peas in a pod. They loved people. They were very fun and gregarious, just always with a smile on their faces,” La Porta said.

Loved ones told KIRO 7 the couple flew regularly and were returning from a flying trip to Glacier National Park when the plane went down.

“It’s just a shock — I guess is the best way to put it,” he continued. “I ask myself what I could have done better, or how could I have done better. … I can’t think of anything I would have done better.”

Ahead of the crash, Carrie Makar had posted regular updates to her Facebook page, most recently posting a photograph with the caption, “Carrie’s spoiled life meter – holding steady at dangerously high.”

“That was Carrie,” said longtime friend, Jessi Green Murphy. “She died with the person she loved, doing what she loved.”

The couple leaves behind four sons, whom Carrie Makar had from a previous marriage. According to those close to the couple, they had recently blended their family. Brian Makar took quickly to being a stepfather.

“It was just too soon. It was too soon for her. It was too soon for her boys. It hit too close to home,” said Green Murphy. “We miss her dearly; we weren’t done with her, and we wish she was still here with us.”

A friend of the family has set up a GoFundMe to assist with funeral services and taking care of their four boys — now and in the future.

According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the airplane involved was a four-seat Cessna 172.

The NTSB is investigating the cause of the crash.


  1. Everyone seems to be blaming the SR20/22s lately but I see a lot of C172's and Bonanzas and Pipers and experimentals involved too.
    A C172 is always a head scratcher... It is a tough versatile and docile little machine with absolutely everything perfect to do anything safely yet people always manage to kill themselves in one from time to time.
    With the kinks worked out for decades now and very good reliability it will always be pilot error. Or poor training... if this was a student the CFI will be in a very hot seat.

    1. CFI's don't have deep pockets.Expect the ambulance chasers to go after deeper pockets for sure.

    2. I meant NTSB/FAA hot seat. Ambulance chasers will go after the school of course since their insurance also covers the CFIS or even the airport authority.
      Allowing a student for solo is a big liability and those 250 hrs+ CFIs bent on their ATP and getting the hell out of there think Aviation is like boating or rock climbing and those accidents will never happen to their students.

    3. Looks like he was instrument rated. Based out of Puget Sound. I wonder if they just boxed themselves into the canyon and couldn't climb or work their way back out. Almost 90 degrees and a lot higher than their home airport could be something as well. I also noticed the opt-in for basicmed vs renewing 3rd class. Probably irrelevant, but who knows. RIP to the couple and the poor kids that are left behind.

  2. Post from one of the Missoula Search and Rescue members (link below):

    "Four days ago, I and several other members of the Missoula County Search and Rescue, along with Missoula Rural Fire, the Missoula Sheriff's Office and USFS, responded to a downed aircraft west of Missoula, MT.
    My point here is not to lay blame and I most certainly want to be respectful toward those who lost their lives, and to those whose lives have been shattered. I am looking to learn, and to encourage good decision making skills in myself and other pilot's.
    We can only suspect what the scenario may have been inside the cockpit, however, like so many aircraft accidents, I presume the pilot didn't realize the severity of the situation until he was deep into it. And like so many aircraft accidents, many factors contributed to the fateful outcome.
    Preliminary finding show high gross weight coupled with high density altitude were likely contributing factors in the accident that took the lives of the husband and wife aboard the aircraft, leaving 4 children behind.
    The last ADS-B track shows the C172 at 5200', climbing <150' per min., at 67 kts. over the ground as they turned up a drainage surrounded by a 5600' ridge. (KMOS is 3200'). It is my understanding they were headed towards a backcountry strip in Idaho. With the nose pitched up trying to climb, I presume they didn't realize they were in a box canyon until they were well committed. The scene shows indications of a stall after attempting what could only be a very tight turn at the end of the now narrow drainage."

    1. Plotting positions from Flightaware on the terrain shows that he flew along that O'Brien Creek drainage for at least 4 miles, beginning at Hagerty Gulch:

      That last recorded position is 2.5 miles from where the west end closes out, which the pilot would see as he came around the bend.

      From having worked the scene, did he crash near that last recorded position, or stay in the climb and attempt the turn closer to the west end?

    2. I clicked on the pins, it doesnt look like mountains. Im ignorant in all things aeronautic but my cousin Carrie died in this crash.. I dont see how they were boxed in or unable to climb.. Am I just not understanding how maps work?

    3. I clicked on the pins, it doesnt look like mountains. Im ignorant in all things aeronautic but my cousin Carrie died in this crash.. I dont see how they were boxed in or unable to climb.. Am I just not understanding how maps work?

    4. Melanie - Here is the mapped crash location given in the NTSB preliminary report that just came out. Use the "Layers" selector at bottom left to click "Terrain", then close the side panel and zoom out a bit for best visualization:

      It is important to understand that for reasons unknown, the pilot did not choose to climb clear, with margin, before starting across elevated terrain. Any combination of reduced performance, wind influence, malfunction or miscalculation can easily result in a crash when aircraft fly below the surrounding terrain.

      So sorry for you loss of family.

      Here is the preliminary report:

    5. Thank you, the entire flying community has helped me understand as much as we can right now. At least 2 dozen people have taken time to explain/help yall are amazing thank you

  3. Sad. I fly out of the home airport of this aircraft/pilot, and routinely fly eastbound at 7,500 or 9,500’ to clear the Cascade ridges and turbulence. Hard to imagine this pilot would not have been familiar with DA in this environment, but as others say the links in the chain can add up. Likely realized too late, or maybe had an additional issue, mechanical or otherwise. Very interested to see preliminary and final NTSB reports.

  4. Within the last month, 4 people were killed in Florida in two separate accident in 152s!!
    You must stay on top of things regardless of what you are flying....even a 152. Sorry for the loss of life in any accident.

  5. GoFundMe for final expenses & kid’s education:

  6. Another box canyon crash happened just two days later in Aspen.

  7. Looking at their track out of WA, they were going as direct as possible. Northern Idaho is no place to be in a normally aspirated single. There are not many options if the engine fails. A little farther north and they could have followed I-90 and always had an “out”. I’m thinking because the airplane was “rented”, they were trying to save money. It also explains the direct climb out of MSO, where the better option is to do a left downwind departure and fly down the Bitterroot Valley at least until getting the altitude to maybe make the turn back over Lolo Pass. If it is true they were going to a back country strip in Idaho, there might be only 3 or 4 out of 50 that I would ever think about taking a C-172 into, and then only in the morning when the temps, DA, and wind is in your favor. I once witnessed a guy from California with a turbine powered Cessna 210 take off from a “back country” strip at around 1600 with temps in the low 90s. He didn’t make it very far. Unfortunately a lot of flat landers end up on hillsides all across the mountain west. It truly is a shame. Prayers for their kids.

    1. I thought the same thing about their track out of Washington and up the St Joe River. Also refueling in Tekoa with its 2200 foot runway when it's 95 degrees out wouldn't have been my first choice. Shoshone County and Mullan Pass or Pullman and Lolo Pass would have been better options with a lot more margin for error. Not trying to nitpick but it points to below average ADM.

    2. It wasn't a rented aircraft, it was a flying club aircraft with very reasonable wet rates. I can't imagine he was flying direct to save Hobbs time, but instead to try and shorten the legs in general.

    3. A flying club aircraft is still a "rented" aircraft. It does not belong to you, and you are paying a fee "rental rate" to use the aircraft. No, the general public can't "rent" the aircraft, you must belong to the "club" and pay monthly dues. That is why "club" rates are generally lower for members.
      Bottom line, it was "rented from Valley fliers.

    4. It's an equity flying club. It does belong to you, or at least fractionally. The "rental rate" is just a convention; it could easily be redrawn where expenses are passed through to the members directly, or any of another types of schemes. It is not a rental in the traditional sense, there is no minimum hour per day requirement or other mandatory fees that might make a pilot change their behavior to avoid a higher bill.

  8. a low time pilot flying into unknown terrain? having not spoken to his CFI! or others with knowledge of his route! And the variable factor of "Wind. In many respects, the wind in mountainous terrain can be compared to water flowing in a rocky stream. The wind, like the water, is funneled and turned by the obstacles and updrafts and downdrafts are created. In general, a wind parallel to a valley is funneled in the valley and a venturi effect can be caused where the valley narrows. This can lead to significant clear air turbulence and potentially to very hazardous conditions where two valleys intersect. A wind which is perpendicular to a ridge line will cause a lifting effect on the windward side of the ridge and a sinking effect on the lee side. Under the same wind conditions (wind blowing towards the ridge) in a valley that parallels the ridge line, the into wind (upwind) side of the valley will have the subsiding air whereas the downwind side of the valley will have rising air.

    As the wind speed increases, the strength of the associated downdrafts and turbulence also increase. Depending upon the terrain, winds of as little as 25 knots can cause downdrafts which exceed the climb capability of a light aircraft or mechanical turbulence which could cause structural failure."

    1. I've experienced how unforgiving Montana can be and close to where this accident occurred. IFR, 12,000', 3,000' above the Ridgeline and losing 250' in a full Vx climb in a Comanche. There was plenty of room and various options to retreat. In my case I was in a 50 kn headwind so the wave was extreme and climb performance not great at that altitude. If you don't have mountain flying training and experience fly your VFR routes as if you filed IFR, then give yourself options. RIP, I'm very sad for all involved. We never know what lays ahead of us.

  9. Never fly into a situation where all the terrain lies considerably higher than you.

  10. This while accident makes me sad, because the only conclusion I can draw is that the pilot didn’t do any significant route planning and was just going to “play it by ear” to their destination. That can work in the flatlands, but it’s a recipe for disaster in the mountains, and disaster is what they found.

    There are so many things that could have been done differently here… they could have circled over or near the field to gain altitude before setting off, they could have asked for flight following (never hurts and might have helped, plus it forces you to formulate a bit of a plan so you can tell ATC what you plan to do.). They could have done anything other than blindly set out in the direction of their destination while surrounded by terrain at altitudes they had not yet reached.

    Flying VFR is not an excuse for failing to plan, especially in the mountains. If anything, it requires MORE planning since the only one looking out for you is yourself. There are so many great tools available today for flight planning that allow you to see a terrain profile and plan a route that keeps you well above it – and it appears that in this case, they weren’t used or weren’t heeded. It’s just sad.

  11. Richard McSpadden’s November AOPA article describes a similar accident involving a better airplane which is still no match for the much higher rising terrain:

    God’s grace, peace and blessings to the family.