Interesting little mystery.
35 years later, man still trying to solve plane crash mystery (greatfallstribune.com)
much more at the link aboveSome 35 years ago, Arden Van Horssen was hunting near Augusta when through his binoculars he saw a flash of white on an opposite hillside.
It ended up being the wreckage of a small airplane.
When Van Horssen, a pilot himself, hiked to the crash site, he could tell the plane was upside down when it crashed into some large pine trees about 50 feet from the top of the mountain. However, other than the tips of the propeller being bent, the plane was almost unscathed.
“There was no real big damage to anything,” he said. “That plane landed beautifully upside down, almost like it was flown in there.”
And when he looked inside, the airplane appeared good as new.
“The cockpit, it wasn’t disturbed a bit,” Van Horssen said.
Nothing inside made it look like anyone had been injured. Even the upholstery remained untouched.
“I thought, by God, these people who were in there walked away,” he said.
But Van Horssen never did find out exactly what happened to the plane’s occupants, and he’s wondered about it ever since.
I wonder if it's even possible to intentionally crash a plane and have it be in that pristine a condition. He says it was upside down, it's not like they just landed in a field of grass somewhere.
If someone can land a jetliner on the Hudson River and all the occupants walk away--I'm willing to believe that this could happen.
I believe this article I found is about missing plane mentioned in the original article-
In 1969, a twin-engine private plane operated by Leslie Kottsick, and carrying his wife and two children, disappeared somewhere in western Montana. The article mentions that a base camp had been set up near Augusta.
I doubt the missing Kottsick plane is the one Van Horssen found, but it was mentioned in the article as the only missing plane anyone concerned could recall. In the original article its mentioned that the found plane had one propeller (the primary damage observed being the "tips of the propeller" being bent). The Kottsick plane had twin engines.
I may have it... The US Air Force Air Combat Command released a document detailing aircraft remains visible from the air. Using the latitude and longitude listed, I found that in October of 1964 a Cessna 185 (high wing, single engine) plane crashed on Haystack Butte. It is the only aircraft I've found that's anywhere near the area. There are no other details available on the plane that I can find. It is listed as "unmarked", which I guess makes sense as no markings would probably be visible if the plane is inverted.
I know Van Horssen thought the plane may have crashed within a year of his discovery, but I think we have to take his age and the time that has passed since then into consideration.
I emailed the reporter (Erin Madison) who wrote the original article with the info about the Kottsick family's plane. Using that info and the dates provided, she was able to find several articles in her own paper's archives about the flight and discovered that it did in fact crash near Augusta. All aboard were killed. The reporter feels that this is indeed the plane that Van Horssen discovered some time in the mid '70s.
Erin also stated she spoke to a hunting guide who was with Van Horssen when he found the wreckage. He feels that Van Horssen's recollection of the time frame and condition of the plane aren't quite accurate. Easy enough to understand, given his age and that this occurred more than 35 years ago.
Apparently, mystery solved. And, I invited Erin to stop by WS and have a look around.
I should stop when I'm ahead, lol. I did a little more digging to reassure myself and discovered the Kottsick's Piper PA-24 broke up in flight and the remains were scattered over a 4-mile area ( http://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=12024 ). The wreckage was removed in September of '69. Therefore, the Cessna that crashed in '64 has to be our plane.
If anyone sees further articles, please post. Great work, shadowangel!