Investigation Into Butte Plane Crash Begins

By Beacon Staff

BUTTE – The National Transportation Safety Board has begun investigating the weekend crash of a twin-engine plane near Butte that killed the pilot, NorthWestern Energy Vice President David Gates.

Eliot Simpson, aviation accident investigator, said more than half of the Cessna 310 was incinerated, but what is left of the aircraft is being taken to a hangar in Bozeman to be reconstructed. He expects a factual preliminary report will be issued later this week.

Simpson says Gates was returning to Butte from Great Falls on Saturday afternoon when he missed the approach to Bert Mooney Airport. It is not know why he missed the approach, but it was snowing in the area at the time.

About two minutes after missing the approach, Gates radioed three successive “mayday” calls. The plane then disappeared from radar.

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