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Witness: Plane that crashed in US jerked wildly

 Officials investigate the scene of fatal plane crash outside the Butte Airport in Butte, Mont., on Sunday, March 22, 2009.  A small plane, possibly c...
 NTSB investigators, local police and members of the sheriff department investigate the scene of fatal plane crash outside the Butte Airport in Butte,...

Plane Crash Montana

Officials investigate the scene of fatal plane crash outside the Butte Airport in Butte, Mont., on Sunday, March 22, 2009. A small plane, possibly c...

APTOPIX Plane Crash Montana

NTSB investigators, local police and members of the sheriff department investigate the scene of fatal plane crash outside the Butte Airport in Butte,...

A single engine turboprop airplane that crashed just short of an airport jerked to the left before nose-diving into a cemetery, a witness said Monday. All 14 people on board, half of them children, were killed.
Kenny Gulick, 14, told CBS television that he thought he was watching a stunt plane because the pilot was making so many turns before the plane crashed Sunday.
"He jerked the plane to the left too quickly and lost control of it, but that's just my guess," said Gulick. "And all of a sudden it went into a nosedive. I noticed the pilot trying to pull up but he was extremely low to the ground and he didn't pull up in time."
The death toll was confirmed by Karen Byrd, a Federal Aviation Administration operations officer in Renton, Washington. Earlier, the count had been put as high as 17. Byrd said seven adults and seven children died in the crash.
The single engine turboprop crashed and burned at Holy Cross Cemetery, 500 feet (150 meters) short of Bert Mooney Airport in Butte, said FAA spokesman Mike Fergus.
The plane, a Pilatus PC-12, was believed to be taking its occupants on a ski trip to Montana. "We think that it was probably a ski trip for the kids," Fergus said.
The Pilatus PC-12's capacity is 12 adults. It was not known whether the extra people aboard was a factor in the crash, since seven of the victims were children.
An investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, Kristi Dunks, offered few details at a press conference in Butte Sunday night. No cause of the crash was given.
Dunks would not say if there had been a distress call from the pilot. It was partly cloudy, the visibility was 10 miles (16 kilometers) and winds were blowing from the northwest around 10 mph (16 kph) at the time of the crash, according to hourly temperature information from the National Weather Service.
A California newspaper, the Napa Valley Register, reported on its Web site late Sunday that a family of five from St. Helena, California, including three preschoolers, was among the victims.
The aircraft had departed from Oroville, California, and the pilot had filed a flight plan showing a destination of Bozeman, about 85 miles (135 kilometers) southeast of Butte. But the pilot canceled his flight plan at some point and headed for Butte, Fergus said.
Butte Silver-Bow Sheriff John Walsh said there were a few people at the cemetery at the time of the crash, but no one on the ground was injured.
The plane was registered to Eagle Cap Leasing Inc. in Enterprise, Oregon, Fergus said. He didn't know who was operating the plane.
I. Felkamp is listed in Oregon corporate records as Eagle Cap's president. Attempts to reach him by phone were unsuccessful.
In Switzerland, Markus Kaelin, executive assistant to the chairman of Pilatus Aircraft, said the company had no comment.
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Associated Press writers Tom Verdin in Oroville, California; Mike Blood in Los Angeles; and Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-10-21 19:53 GMT+08:00