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Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has provided some initial findings into its investigation of light aircraft crash in Grand Teton National Park on Wednesday, September 11. The NTSB is the lead investigator and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Grand Teton National Park are both assisting with the crash investigation.
NTSB Air Safety Investigator Zoë Keliher determined that the crash occurred at 11:55 a.m. on Wednesday. The time was established from a 911 call made by an eyewitness who was driving north on North Spring Gulch Road when the plane went down. Keliher also learned that the occupants of the RV7 aircraft, Russell and Carol Kamtz, had flown from Montana to the Jackson Hole Airport where they refueled, spending just 15 minutes on the ground. The Kamtzes then took off to the north of runway 010 and climbed to about 400 feet before turning south. At that time, they made a call to the airport control tower that they were having a problem with their aircraft and were returning to the airport.
According to eyewitnesses, one of the aircraft's wings dipped as it was turning to the west. Witnesses also reported that the nose of the plane dove toward the ground and the aircraft descended in a near vertical position before impact. Witnesses described seeing neither flames nor fire when the aircraft crashed into the open sagebrush flats about 3/4 mile south of the Jackson Hole Airport.
Russell Kamtz was a certified pilot; however, Carol was not certified to fly. They were aboard their RV7 aircraft—a two-seat, single engine, low-wing, experimental airplane. These aircraft are generally homebuilt from a kit. Keliher had not yet determined whether the Kamtzes had assembled the plane they were flying.
Keliher and two assistants are working to capture all evidence associated with the crash site and wreckage. NTSB will examine the engine, air frame and other mechanical evidence, and review the "crash signature" on the ground to determine how the plane hit and what crash patterns it may show. Keliher explained that NTSB looks at three broad areas—man, machine and the environment—during any crash investigation. She will also look at weather (wind and wind speed) and other environmental factors that may have influenced this crash. Keliher's team is reassembling the RV7 aircraft to review mechanical evidence. Further details will be made public as the NTSB investigation concludes.
Although some witness accounts were already taken, NTSB Air Safety Officer Keliher requests that anyone with information about this crash incident, to call her at 208.352.0235.