HELENA – A mountain flying instructor died in an airplane crash about 2.5 miles southeast of the Canyon Ferry airstrip near Townsend, Department of Transportation officials said Thursday.
A search team from Malmstrom Air Force Base found the wreckage of the Cessna 180 that went missing Tuesday on a flight from Bozeman to Helena.
DOT officials said pilot Sparky Imeson was killed in the crash.
“It’s difficult to find the right words to convey the sense of loss the Montana aeronautics community will experience,” said Debbie Alke of the state Aeronautics Division. “Sparky Imeson was a colleague and a friend to so many. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and our gratitude to all who have helped us find him.”
The wreckage was located at 9:45 a.m.
Imeson took off from the Bozeman airport at 2:11 p.m. Tuesday, and did not arrive in Helena as expected. He dropped off the Bozeman radar about 18 miles from the city.
A rancher reported seeing a white plane in the Kimber Gulch, Beaver Creek area, west of Canyon Ferry Lake, between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday. Broadwater County Sheriff Brenda Ludwig said the information helped search crews find the plane.
Imeson survived a 2007 plane crash in the Elkhorn Mountains.
Jon C. Kantorowicz of Great Falls was practicing canyon flying when a downdraft caught the plane. After the crash, the plane caught fire and was destroyed. Imeson tried to walk out of the mountains and was located by search crews and rescued by a helicopter.
In that crash, Imeson suffered a compression fracture to his back, along with broken ribs, a broken toe and cuts on his head.
Kantorowicz, who stayed near the plane, suffered a broken sternum, fractured two vertebrae and his right leg, and received a blow to the head.
Imeson, the owner of Mountain Flying LLC, is the author of the “Mountain Flying Bible and Flight Operations Handbook.”
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