In a photo taken by a Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center staff member, Pam Bird and Tookie Hensley in the front seats, and Don Hensley in the back seat smile shortly before taking off October 8th. The trio was killed when the plane crashed a short time later.
SANDPOINT — The National Transportation Safety Board is mum on the status of the investigation into a plane crash last year that killed aviator and entrepreneur Dr. Pam Riddle Bird and two passengers.
The NTSB probe into the Oct. 8, 2015, crash near Hope has been in the preliminary phase for months. Agency officials decline to release any additional information at this time.
“This is what is available at this time,” NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said, referring to the preliminary report.
Bird’s Cessna 182P airplane departed from the Bird Aviation Museum & Invention Center in Sagle shortly before 8:30 a.m., according to the NTSB report. The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center reported receiving a emergency locator transmitter ping northeast of Hope at around the same time.
About six hours later, wreckage was discovered by a helicopter near a ridge line on Round Top Mountain.
The airplane collided with numerous treetops before crashing into the mountainside.
“There was a post-crash fire that destroyed the airplane cabin,” the report said.
Also killed in the crash were Bessie “Tookie” Hensley and Don Hensley, 80 and 84, respectively. They were close friends and flying companions of Bird.
The remains of the Hensleys were positively identified through the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office. The remains of Bird were unaccounted, although the NTSB report said it’s presumed that she died in the crash.
Family members told investigators that Bird was en route to Gainsville, Fla., with stops planned in Minot, N.D. The flight was originally scheduled for Oct. 7, but was called off due to poor weather conditions. The plane had been fueled to maximum capacity prior to taking off, according to NTSB.
Weather conditions at the time of the crash were a calm wind with an overcast layer about 2,800 above ground level, NTSB said.
Bird was the widow of Dr. Forrest Morton Bird, an aviator and inventor and biomedical engineer. He passed away at age 94, two months before his wife was killed.
The current phase of the NTSB investigation involves probable causes of the crash.
Original article can be found here: http://www.bonnercountydailybee.com
PAMELA R. BIRD: http://registry.faa.gov/N6184F
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Spokane FSDO-13
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 08, 2015 in Hope, ID
Aircraft: CESSNA 182P, registration: N6184F
Injuries: 3 Fatal.
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 October 8, 2015, at 0826 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 182P airplane, N6184F, collided with mountainous terrain about 3.5 miles northeast of Hope, Idaho. The private pilot and the commercial pilot were fatally injured, the pilot-rated passenger has not been located and is presumed to be a fatality. The airplane impacted large pine trees near a mountain ridge line and was destroyed by a post-crash fire. The airplane was registered to the private pilot, and operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and a flight plan had not been filed. The flight originated at the Bird Nr 2 air strip, Sagle, Idaho, at 0816, and was destined for Minot, North Dakota.
The Bonner County Sheriff reported that at 0826 he received reports of a single emergency locator transmitter ping in the vicinity northeast of Hope. About 6 hours later a helicopter located the wreckage just below a ridgeline saddle in the mountains above Hope, at an elevation of 5,226 feet mean sea level (msl). The airplane had first impacted numerous tree tops then collided with terrain about 156 feet later, along a 046-degree magnetic bearing line. There was a post-crash fire that destroyed the airplane cabin. Both pilots were located in the wreckage, however, the passenger, who had been in the rear seats of the airplane, has not been located.
Family members reported that the intended route of flight was to depart Sagle, proceed to Minot, then over to Maine, and then proceed along the east coast of the US, with a final destination of Gainesville, Florida. The flight had been planned to depart on Wednesday, October 7, but was delayed due to poor weather conditions. Just before the airplane departed the pilot-rated passenger told the ranch foreman that they were heading to Minot, but because of the weather they were probably going to try to go south. The ranch foreman also stated that on Tuesday he had fueled the airplane to maximum capacity.
The nearest weather reporting station was the Sand Point Airport (KSZT), elevation 2,131 feet msl, located 15 miles west of the accident location and operates a AWOS-3 (automated weather observation system) . On October 8, at 0835, the KSZT AWOS-3 automated recording reported calm wind, an overcast layer at 2,800 feet above ground level (agl), 10 statute miles visibility, temperature of 12 degrees C and dew point of 12 degrees C, and altimeter setting 30.29 inHg.
Dr. Pam Riddle Bird with Bonner County commissioners Todd Sudick, left, and Cary Kelly, right, in 2015.
Tookie Hensley, left, and Pamela Bird
A undated photo of Tookie and Don Hensley - they were still active pilots at ages 80 and 84.