Sparky Imeson, the pioneering mountain flying instructor who died in the crash of his Cessna 180 on March 17, may have been involved in low-level flying prior to the accident. A preliminary NTSB report bases its statement on a witness who saw an aircraft similar to that flown by Imeson.
“The witness stated that the tops of the wings were below the power lines and he estimated the airplane was 20 - 30 feet above the ground traveling at a high rate of speed,” the NTSB report states. “He added that the airplane was low enough, it spooked a heard of elk near the airplane’s flight path. The witness continued watching the airplane as it pitched upwards and to the left, making a 180-degree turn near the Kelly Gulch area to a southerly heading. He added that as the airplane pitched upwards, he was able to see the tops of the wings. The witness further stated that he stopped watching the airplane to continue observing the trespassers.” Imeson’s aircraft had taken off from Bozeman, Mont., with Helena as the intended destination, the NTSB report said.
The witness observed the aircraft from a point about two miles northeast of what later was the Imeson accident site. The witness stopped watching the aircraft before the accident.