Factual Report: Cargo Airplane Crashed In Icing Area
Cessna 208B Caravan, Bellevue, Idaho, Dec. 6, 2004–Mountain Bird’s UPS cargo flight crashed in flat open terrain about seven miles outside Bellevue, Idaho, in VMC. The aircraft was destroyed and the two ATP pilots were killed. The captain had logged 9,757 hours. En route from Salt Lake City to Freidman Memorial (SUN), Hailey, Idaho, the Caravan was on an IFR flight plan.
A witness saw the airplane at low level below the cloud base flying with the right wing lower than the left as it continued to descend. He said the wings moved “side to side” a couple of times before the nose of the aircraft dropped to near vertical to the terrain, the engine running “steady.” Another witness heard the sound of the engine “accelerate” before he heard a “big boom.”
The pilot of a Cessna Citation who departed SUN reported a light accumulation of snow on the taxiway and runway. During climbout, he noted visibility to the southeast was between four and five miles and the ceiling was approximately 2,500 feet.
The pilot of another Citation was ahead of the Cessna 208 and flying the same instrument approach to SUN. From about 12,000 feet to about 8,000 feet, that airplane was in IMC and “picking up light to occasional moderate rime ice.” The flight broke out of IMC and ice accumulation about five miles south of the final approach fix. The accumulation started about 40 to 50 miles out from Hailey. Tops of the clouds were about 12,000 feet and the bases from about three miles from the final approach fix were about 7,500 feet to 8,000 feet. SUN indicated broken sky cover with a ceiling of 3,800 feet with light continuous snow.