NTSB releases preliminary report on "Ice Road Truckers" plane cr - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

NTSB releases preliminary report on "Ice Road Truckers" plane crash

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MTN News file photo. MTN News file photo.
Darrell Ward rose to fame on the TV show "Ice Road Truckers." (courtesy photo) Darrell Ward rose to fame on the TV show "Ice Road Truckers." (courtesy photo)

Officials are still investigating the plane crash that killed two people in Montana last month, including "Ice Road Truckers" reality-TV personality Darrell Ward.

The crash happened when a single-engine Cessna piloted by 56-year-old Mark Melotz from Arlee, with 52-year-old Ward from Deer Lodge on-board, crashed while trying to land at a small air strip just east of Rock Creek southeast of Missoula on I-90.

Ward had starred in the popular History Channel reality show "Ice Road Truckers" since 2012.

The Missoula County Sheriff's Office says Melotz picked Ward up in Missoula before the incident, but it unknown why they attempted to land at this air strip.

The National Transportation Safety Board this week released its preliminary findings into the crash.

Here is the complete text of the initial report: 

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. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report. 

On August 28, 2016, about 1445 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 182D, N9936T, was substantially damaged following a loss of control and impact with terrain while attempting to land at the Rock Creek Airport (RC0), Clinton, Montana. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The local flight was being operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and a flight plan was not filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which had departed about 45 minutes prior to the accident from the Missoula International Airport (MSO), Missoula, Montana, with RC0 as its destination. 

According to a witness who observed the accident, who is also a certified commercial pilot, upon the airplane's arrival it overflew the airport from east to west, then turned back to the east on an extended right downwind. The witness stated that when the airplane was on final approach it was stable, with the wind being out of the west, "...right down runway 25 at about 8 knots." The witness further stated that when the airplane was about 40 feet above the runway and preparing to land, it suddenly veered 90 degrees to the right, in what he estimated to be about a 30-degree bank angle. The airplane subsequently collided with a stand of trees that bordered the runway on the north, then impacted the ground before coming to rest upright on the shoulder of an Interstate highway. Shortly thereafter, a fire erupted, which consumed the forward two-thirds of the airplane. 

The airplane was recovered to a secured location for further examination.

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