Pilot of Rodeo-Bound Plane Couldn't See Mountain Before CrashAP , Associated Press
Jul. 4, 1990 6:07 AM ET
LONGMIRE, WASH. LONGMIRE, Wash. (AP) _ A pilot radioed he couldn't see Mount Rainier minutes before his charter plane slammed into the cloud-shrouded peak, killing four champion calf-ropers en route to a rodeo in Canada, authorities say.
The single-engine plane plowed into a glacier Monday at the 12,500-foot level of the 14,411-foot mountain.
An Army helicopter brought the bodies of the five men down from the mountain on Tuesday.
The cowboys had chartered the plane to go to a rodeo in Ponoka, Alberta. The Ponoka Stampede is the last big rodeo in Canada before the big Calgary Stampede, said Keith Hyland of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association.
The four were chasing the prizes of Cowboy Christmas, a 10-day stretch in which a competitor may hit a dozen shows and make 20 percent of his annual earnings.
Minutes before the crash, pilot H.R Card had radioed to air traffic controllers that he couldn't see the mountain, said Bill Hamilton, assistant secretary of the state Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Division.
Card was told to take evasive action. But moments later contact was lost, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Mitch Barker.
Killed besides the pilot were Dave Smith, 31, of College Place; David Bowen, 28, of Yoakum, Texas; Randy Dierlam, 29, of Seadrift, Texas, and Mike Currin, 25, of Hermiston, Ore.
Bowen was the sixth-ranked PRCA calf roper last year. Dierlam was No. 10 and Smith 18. Currin was PRCA Resistol rookie of the year in 1987.