Three Survive Plane Crash in Bob Marshall

By Beacon Staff

DEER LODGE (AP) – A small plane crashed Monday night in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Powell County Sheriff Scott Howard said.

None of the three people on board was seriously injured, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said. However, rescue crews were still working to reach them late Monday.

Howard said the plane went down about 20 miles west of Gibson Reservoir and two miles east of Big Salmon Lake, in the heart of the wilderness area.

“The pilot was able to use his radio,” Howard told the Independent Record newspaper. “He was able to talk to another aircraft flying above. That other aircraft spiraled down and got a look.”

The pilot of the second plane relayed the latitude and longitude of the downed aircraft to rescuers.

Howard said an air ambulance out of Kalispell was dispatched to the crash scene, along with a search and rescue team from the 40th Helicopter Squadron based at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls.

“We did have a crew take off just after 9 p.m.,” said Lt. Justin Brockhoff, public affairs officer for Malmstrom. “They have a hoist and can extract someone while the helicopter is hovering. There are a lot of circumstances where it’s mountainous terrain and the hoist comes in handy.”

Howard said late Monday he was working with the Spotted Bear Ranger Station to help coordinate the rescue. He added that the crash site was reachable only by air or horseback.

“It’s really rugged terrain,” he said. “There’s a meadow there _ based on latitude and longitude. There’s an old airstrip in there that was last used in 1962.”