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Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, MT (BZN/KBZN)
Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Narrative: There were no witnesses to the accident; however, a witness saw the airplane flying about 10 to 15 feet above the river before it disappeared from view behind the riverbank. The pilot reported that he had no memory of the event and could not recall the accident flight; the passenger stated that, near the end of the flight, 'a line wire got in the way.' The airplane came to rest in a snow-covered field about 1/4 mile from power transmission lines that had been broken, and the vertical stabilizer displayed damage consistent with a wire strike. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of preaccident mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The circumstances of the accident are consistent with the pilot's decision to operate at low level, and his failure to maintain clearance from power lines. Astronomical data revealed that the accident occurred about 1 minute before sunset, which may have contributed to the pilot's failure to see and avoid the power lines.
Probable Cause: The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from power lines while maneuvering at low level, which resulted in a wire strike and subsequent impact with terrain.