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FAA: Children among 17 dead in Montana plane crash

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BUTTE, Mont. – A small plane crashed Sunday as it approached an airport in Montana, killing 17 people, including several children, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said.

The single engine turboprop plane crashed about 500 feet from the airport in Butte while attempting to land, said spokesman Mike Fergus. The Montana Standard reported in an online story that it crashed in Butte’s Holy Cross Cemetery.
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The aircraft had departed from Oroville, Calif., and the pilot had filed a flight plan showing a destination of Bozeman, about 85 miles southeast of Butte. But the pilot canceled his flight plan at some point and headed for Butte, Fergus said.

Preliminary reports indicate the dead include numerous children, he said. There were no known fatalities on the ground, he added.

“We think that it was probably a ski trip for the kids,” Fergus said.

The plane was registered to Eagle Cap Leasing Inc. in Enterprise, Ore., Fergus said. He didn’t know who was operating the plane.

Calls to local authorities were not immediately returned.

Witnesses told the Standard that they saw the plane go into a nosedive into the cemetery.

Martha and Steve Guidoni, who were at a gas station across from the cemetery, said the plane “just nose-dived into the ground.”

“My husband went over there to see if he could do anything,” Martha Guidoni said.

Fergus said the Pilatus PC-12 aircraft was manufactured in 2001.

I. Felkamp is listed as Eagle Cap’s president in Oregon corporate records. Attempts to reach Felkamp by phone were unsuccessful.

In California, Tom Hagler said he saw a group of about a dozen children and four adults Sunday morning at the Oroville Municipal Airport, about 70 miles north of Sacramento.

Hagler, owner of Table Mountain Aviation, described the children as ranging from about 6- to 10 year olds. He let the children into his building to use the restroom.

“There were a lot of kids in the group,” he said. “A lot of really cute kids.”

Hagler said he showed the pilot where he could fill up on fuel, and the pilot said he expected his flight to take two-and-a-half hours. The pilot didn’t file a flight plan at the Oroville airport.

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway said its investigators were expected to arrive in Butte late Sunday or early Monday.

The incident was the country’s third major plane crash this year. All 155 people onboard survived after a US Airways jetliner landed in New York’s Hudson River in January when a flock of geese disabled both engines, and a commuter plane fell on a house in a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y., killing all 49 passengers and a man in the home in February.

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The Student News Source of the University of New Haven
FAA: Children among 17 dead in Montana plane crash