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A plane crashed just inside the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park early Monday seriously injuring the pilot, park officials said.

The agricultural plane crashed less than 2 miles east of Gardiner, and the pilot was taken to the hospital taken by helicopter ambulance to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, said Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash.

The crash happened east of Yellowstone Trail inside the park, just north of Gardiner Cemetery, Nash said. The plane is designed to carry a single pilot with no passengers. 

Gardiner resident Bill Hill said he heard a plane's engine struggling at about 8:30 a.m.

"I heard a really loud propeller noise," Hill said. "I looked out and saw a plane headed toward the ground at a weird angle, and I knew it must have crashed."

Hill and his daughter drove to the crash site while she called 911.

Hill said that as he approached the damaged plane, he saw pilot Mark Nardin, of Pray, crawl out of the wreckage. Nardin was conscious, "had his wits about him," complained of pain in his ribs and appeared to have a broken leg, Hill said.

"I kept him from moving and kept him awake and talked to him" until emergency responders arrived, Hill said.

The Park County Sheriff's office, along with Gardiner Ambulance helped Yellowstone National Park crews with the rescue. 

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Aero Commander agricultural and pest control airplane is registered to Nardin & Nardin Co., of Pray.



Business Reporter

Business Reporter for the Billings Gazette.