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Two Redmond pilots survive Montana plane crash

by webmaster |

December 24 - Two Forest Service pilots based in Redmond and their families have a special reason to be thankful this Christmas, as the pair survived the fiery crash of their twin-engine plane after it took off in dense fog from Missoula, Mont., International Airport on Monday night.

Forest Service spokesman Roland Giller in Bend identified the pair Wednesday as Don Bell and Scott Fisher, both of Redmond. He said they escaped from the leased twin-engine Beechcraft Baron 58 with minor scrapes and burns. They were treated at a Missoula hospital and released.

The plane went down in a field about a mile east of the airport, shortly after taking off around 8 p.m. They were returning to Redmond after shuttling two other Forest Service pilots to the Missoula Aerial Fire Depot. The Montana pilots had flown a Forest Service C-23 Sherpa plane, used to transport smokejumpers, from Missoula to Redmond for its annual inspection, the Missoulian newspaper ( reported Wednesday.

The two men apparently escaped through a rear door of the twin-engine plane. One manís beard caught fire and the other complained of a sore back after the crash, the newspaper reported, quoting Forest Service spokeswoman Paula Nelson. The plane was owned by RidgeAire Inc. of Jacksonville, Texas, and leased to the Forest Service, which used it to move non-firefighting personnel.