The First Identified Point Of Impact Was A Severed Tree Trunk About 30 Ft Above Ground Level

Location: Missoula, MT Accident Number: WPR21FA258
Date & Time: July 1, 2021, 11:49 Local Registration: N2388L
Aircraft: Cessna 172R Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On July 1, 2021, about 1149 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 172 airplane, N2388L, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Missoula, Montana. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

Recorded Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) showed that the airplane departed the Missoula International Airport (MSO), Missoula, Montana, at 1141, and proceeded on a southwesterly heading. The data showed that the airplane initiated a right turn to a westerly heading about 1743:11, at an altitude of 3,850 ft mean sea level (msl). The last recorded ADS-B target was at 1147:19, at an altitude of 5,225 ft msl, 68 knots ground speed, on a heading of 271° magnetic.

There are no known witnesses. The airplane was the subject of a Federal Aviation Administration Alert Notification (ALNOT) issued the day of the accident, and was located later that evening in mountainous terrain about 9 miles west of MSO.

The airplane came to rest on a south-facing slope within a valley, about 3 miles southwest of the last ADS-B target, at an elevation of 4,664 ft msl, and on a magnetic heading of 040°. The first identified point of impact was a severed tree trunk about 30 ft above ground level. The right wing, left horizontal stabilizer, and left elevator were separated and located within the wreckage debris path. The left wing had folded aft midspan and exhibited a semi-circular indentation in the leading edge and spar, near the outboard tip. The main wreckage was composed of the fuselage, left wing, engine, and empennage.

The airplane was relocated to a secure facility for further examination.