NTSB: Mountain Flyer Imeson Collided With Trees In Fatal Crash

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Sparky Imeson, the author of the Mountain Flying Bible, was lost last March when the Cessna 180 he was flying crashed in the mountains near Bozeman, Mont., and this week the NTSB released its final report on the accident. Evidence at the site such as ground scars, contact evidence on the trees, and impact damage to the airplane were "indicative of a high-speed controlled flight collision with trees," the board said. There was no evidence of any failure or problem with the airframe or the engine prior to the crash. The report noted that a witness had seen an airplane similar to Imeson's near the accident site that was flying about 20 to 30 feet above the ground "at a high rate of speed," but there were no witnesses to the actual crash. The board concluded that the probable cause of the crash was "the pilot's failure to maintain clearance from trees and terrain while maneuvering at a low altitude."

The wreckage was found among a cluster of scraped and broken trees, about 15 to 20 feet in height, along the bottom of a mountain drainage, according to the report. Parts of the airplane were scattered as far as 100 feet from the initial impact site. Imeson and another pilot had survived a crash in the Elkhorn Mountains in June 2007. In March, friends of Imeson's said he was heading to the site of that crash when his airplane went down.