MISSOULA — The pilot of a small plane that crashed in the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho has been confirmed dead.
The single-engine, homebuilt Lancair Legacy plane was flying from Richland, Wash., to Baker when it was reported missing Monday morning. A helicopter from Two Bear Air in Flathead County was dispatched and located the wreckage near Blacklead Mountain at roughly 11:30 a.m.
Blacklead Mountain is eight miles due west of Lolo Pass in the rugged Clearwater National Forest.
Clearwater County Sheriff Chris Goetz said the downed plane was within 150 feet of Forest Service Road 581.
Goetz said his office was notified by the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office when the plane disappeared from radar.
Two Bear Air, an aviation support company based in Whitefish, was in the Hamilton area assisting with the search for a missing firefighter who later turned up alive and well.
“They were only 14 minutes from the last-known coordinates of the plane, so they flew over and actually hoisted paramedics down to the wreckage and confirmed that there was one deceased,” said Goetz, adding there was a coroner with the crew on the Two Bear helicopter.
A U.S. Forest Service helicopter in Powell, Idaho, on fire reconnaissance also helped with the search.
Goetz said his office will release the name of the pilot once he is positively identified. The Federal Aviation Administration was en route Monday afternoon to investigate.
The pilot reportedly contacted another airplane Monday morning and said there was oil on his windshield. The plane’s next planned stop was to be in Helena, according to Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton.
The fatal crash occurred a day short of six weeks after a Minnesota man was killed in a fiery crash farther south in the Bitterroots near the Montana-Idaho border. Michael Blume, 62, died when the Grumman Goose he was piloting crashed into the parking lot of Lost Trail Powder Mountain. In June 2012, the pilot of another small craft survived a crash landing near the top of Lost Trail Pass.