OGDEN -- The National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report on the Aug. 30 plane crash that killed Jarrod Dearden near Bozeman, Mont., gives a detailed look at his last hours and the wreck site at which he died, but no answers.
The report does say an air traffic controller in Bozeman had said "instrument flight rules" weather existed in the area minutes before Dearden's plane crashed. That means the weather was bad enough to require a pilot to use instruments to navigate.
It also says the plane crashed "while in an uncontrolled descent," landing nose-first straight into the ground.
Dearden, 34, died about 8 a.m. Aug. 30 when the Cessna 182 he was piloting crashed on a hillside about eight miles south of Bozeman. He left a wife and four children.
His father, Craig Dearden, is a former Weber County sheriff and current Weber County commissioner.
Although not instrument-rated, Dearden was a skilled pilot who also worked as director of maintenance for a Salt Lake City-based helicopter maintenance company.
The NTSB report filed Monday by investigator Wayne Pollack does not say why the plane crashed. It is a preliminary report that is mostly fact-finding.
Pollack said the Federal Aviation Administration is doing its own investigation of the crash, and the NTSB is waiting for toxicology and autopsy reports. Once all those are collected, the NTSB will issue a final report.
"We try to get our investigations done as promptly as possible, but each accident is somewhat unique," he said. "We could hope to get a report out in nine months."
The NTSB report says Dearden was flying a plane borrowed from his place of employment, Ikarus Aviation. He was going to Bozeman on a private trip to help a friend with an airplane repair.
The report says he flew from Salt Lake City to Ogden about 9 p.m. Aug. 29, and parked the plane overnight so he could be close to his home. He went to bed at 10:30 p.m., got up at 4:50 a.m., and drove to the Ogden airport, where he took off for Bozeman.
He did not file a flight plan.
The report says, "No radio communications were received from the accident pilot by the local air traffic controller who was on duty at BZN (Bozeman). About 0747, the local controller reported to another airplane that the weather conditions at BZN were a broken ceiling at 700 feet above ground level and an overcast condition at 1,200 feet above ground level. The controller informed this pilot that 'IFR' (instrument flight rules) weather conditions existed at the airport."
Pollack says he interviewed several witnesses who heard or saw the airplane minutes before the crash.
"Two witnesses reported observing the accident airplane seconds prior to observing it disappear from their view, and within seconds thereafter they observed a plume of dust propagating upward," his report says.
"Other witnesses only heard what they described as the loud engine sound of a very low-flying airplane. Witnesses reported that, at the time of their observation, there were low clouds overhead and light rain was falling."
The report says the plane crashed straight down.
"The airplane impacted into an open field while in a near vertical nose down attitude. The propeller assembly remained attached to the engine, and it was excavated from the bottom of the crater. The entire engine and fragmented forward cockpit were also found below ground level."