A Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprop aircraft (registration N128CM) crashed earlier today near Butte, Montana. According to news reports, the aircraft was preparing to land at Butte's Bert Mooney Airport, but impacted the ground about 500 feet short of the runway. The aircraft caught fire, and all on board are said to have perished.
A short time ago, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a press statement that said that the accident occurred at approximately 15:00 MDT on March 22, 2009. The NTSB statement noted that the aircraft crashed into a cemetery while on approach to the airport. The NTSB has dispatched a 'Go Team' to Butte to investigate the accident.
It is unclear exactly how many people were on board the aircraft, but various news reports said that a number of the passengers were children. News reports say that the aircraft was en route from Oroville, CA to Bozeman, MT, but that it diverted to Butte for unknown reasons. The origin and intended destination of the accident flight have not been confirmed by official sources.
UPDATE Mar. 23, 2009: It has been confirmed that there were 14 people on board the Pilatus PC-12 aircraft that crashed yesterday at Butte, Montana. Most of the seven adults and seven small children were members of the extended family of Dr. Irving 'Bud' Feldkamp III, of Redlands, CA, who leased the plane. All those on board perished.
The pilot, who also died in the accident, was identified as Bud Summerfield, from Highland, CA. He reportedly flew the Feldkamp family for about 10 years. An article about the accident on a Los Angeles Times blog quoted a surviving member of the Feldkamp family, who said about the pilot, “He is accomplished and careful, dotting his `i's' and crossing his 't's' and filing his flight plans. If you were in the position to hire a pilot, this is the guy you would hire. We called him Air Bud. My wife has flown with him. There are none better.”
Condolences to the families and friends of all those who perished in this accident.
RELATED: NTSB: Preliminary report on Pilatus PC-12 crash in Montana - Apr. 3, 2009