Crews are now searching on the east slope of the Elkhorn Mountains


Cessna 180F piloted by experienced mountain flier Sparky Imeson disappeared off radar Tuesday afternoon in the vicinity of Bozeman, MT, and a search operation has been launched.

Sparky Imeson, author of several books on mountain flying, was at the controls of an aircraft that fell off radar on Tuesday, over rugged terrain about 18 miles northwest of Bozeman. Snowstorms were reported around the area where the plane disappeared.

A cellular tower in the area picked up a signal from Imeson’s phone shortly after the plane disappeared. “For the phone to receive that call, he’d have to be in that general location,” said Mike Rogan, aviation support officer for the Montana Department of Transportation. “It was the closest tower. Someone tried to call him, but no one answered.”

Crews are now searching on the east slope of the Elkhorn Mountains for the white plane with blue striping. Search and rescue crews from Malmstrom Air Force Base arrived on scene Wednesday to join in the search effort by MDT’s aeronautics division. A particular area of interest for search crews is a deep drainage ravine near Beaver Creek.

Imeson departed from Bozeman Tuesday afternoon. Officials aren’t certain of his intended destination, though the radar track indicates Imeson planned to fly straight to Bozeman, on a path that would have taken him over the south end of the Big Belt Mountain Range.

Jim Grill, Airports/Airways bureau chief for the Department of Transportation, said an air search Tuesday evening did not locate the airplane or an emergency locator signal.

Sparky is a TBO/SAFE supporter, and volunteered to be on the MI Equivalent Committee a while back.

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