- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

BUTTE, MONT. (AP) - Investigators say the 65-year-old pilot of a plane that crashed in Butte, Mont. _ killing all 14 aboard _ was a former Air Force pilot with thousands of flight hours piloting civilian aircraft.

The National Transportation Safety Board also says that pilot Buddy Summerfield’s decision to divert the flight to Butte from Bozeman should not have created problems because that was the original backup plan.

Summerfield was flying six adults and seven children to a ski vacation at the ritzy Yellowstone Club resort south of Bozeman when the plane crashed Sunday.

The NTSB says it expects to recover all the aircraft wreckage by Friday, but answers could be months away.

NTSB acting chairman Mark Rosenker says standard procedure calls for toxicology tests on the pilot’s body, but results could be weeks away.



THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) _ Investigators say a plane that plummeted into a cemetery next to Butte, Mont.’s airport _ killing all 14 people aboard _ was designed to hold just 10 people.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday it first thought the plane could hold 11 people. But after talking to the owner, they realize it was designed only for 10.

Seven of the 14 passengers were children under 10. Mark Rosenker, acting chairman of the NTSB, says children under 2 years old can sit on the laps of adults _ but only one of the children was that young.

Rosenker says investigators want to find out if the plane was over its weight limits. But he says people should not jump to conclusions and pinpoint overloading as the cause of the crash.

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