ANALYSIS: 2013-12-01.. Bonanza N36ML Reported Lost in the Idaho Mountains, with 5 on Board

News articles indicate the pilot reported engine troubles to ATC shortly before disappearing from radar. The closest airport to the location of the descent is said to by Johnson Creek [3U2], just south of Yellow Pine, ID. This airport is at the bottom of a deep valley, in mountainous terrain with peaks 9,000′ to 10,000’+.

Here is a table showing times (Eastern Standard Time), heading, computed speed, altitude, and climb/descent in ft/min. The 3:04PM data lists FlightAware instead of Salt Lake Center, indicating there was no flight data from ATC. In the data below, note the erratic heading, the loss of speed, and the accelerating descent, all marked with red/bold text.

02:47PM 81° East 199mph 13,200ft  Level  Salt Lake Center
02:48PM 83° East 203mph 13,200ft  Level  Salt Lake Center
02:49PM 87° East 211mph 13,200ft  Level  Salt Lake Center
02:50PM 88° East 220mph 13,200ft  Level  Salt Lake Center
02:51PM 80° East 223mph 13,200ft  Level  Salt Lake Center
02:52PM 76° East 222mph 13,200ft  Level  Salt Lake Center
02:53PM 82° East 223mph 13,200ft -60 Level  Salt Lake Center
02:55PM 79° East 223mph 13,100ft -180 Descending  Salt Lake Center
02:56PM 74° East 208mph 12,900ft -540 Descending  Salt Lake Center
02:57PM 62° Northeast 189mph 12,100ft -540 Descending  Salt Lake Center
02:58PM 76° East 191mph 11,800ft  Descending  Salt Lake Center
02:59PM 75° East 192mph 12,200ft  Climbing  Salt Lake Center
03:00PM 38° Northeast 169mph 11,800ft -420 Descending  Salt Lake Center
03:01PM 75° East 176mph 11,400ft -840 Descending  Salt Lake Center
03:02PM 84° East 174mph 10,100ft -1,260 Descending  Salt Lake Center
03:04PM 88° East      Level  FlightAware Approximate
03:11PM 88° East      Level  FlightAware Approximate

Weather at McCall and Salmon indicate a low overcast layer around the time of the accident:

  • KMYL 011851Z AUTO 15013G19KT 10SM -RA FEW012 OVC024 02/00 A3004
  • KSMN 011915Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM OVC045 03/01 A2994


The N36ML flight at FlightAware: [link]

Airport data for Johnson Creek: [link]

News articles: