Cessna 208B Caravan, Bellevue, Idaho, Dec. 6, 2004–Caravan N25SA, designated as Mountain Bird 1860, crashed on flat terrain about seven miles south of Bellevue. The aircraft was destroyed and the ATP pilot-in-command and another pilot on board were killed. VMC prevailed and an IFR flight plan was filed.
Mountain Bird 1860 was cleared for the Rnav (GPS) Runway 31 approach to Friedman Memorial (SUN), Hailey, Idaho. The pilot contacted SUN tower 16 miles south of the airport. The controller cleared the flight to land and asked the pilot if he had the airport in sight. The pilot reported, “Negative, still IMC.” There were no further communications with the flight.
A witness heard the aircraft, then saw it flying in a southeasterly direction at low level. The right wing was low as the aircraft continued to descend. The wings rocked back and forth before the nose of the aircraft dropped nearly vertical to the ground. The witness heard the sound of the engine running steadily throughout the event. Another witness reported hearing the engine accelerate before hearing a “big boom.”
The pilot of a Cessna Citation 525, who flew the same approach to SUN about 20 minutes earlier, reported that during the approach, his aircraft was picking up moderate mixed ice on the wings and windshield.
SUN was reporting calm winds, visibility six miles with light snow and mist. Sky conditions were scattered at 2,000 feet, broken at 4,500 feet and overcast at 6,000 feet. Temperature was 6 degrees C, dew point 9.
The flight originated from Salt Lake City. The airplane was registered to Spirit Air and operated by Mountain Bird dba Salmon Air, as a Part 135 commercial cargo flight under contract with United Parcel Service.