Crashed Plane Retrieved From River; FAA Begins Investigation

Update 6:05 p.m.

Today, the Morton County Sheriff’s Office dive team recovered the airplane of 35-year-old Daniel Miller of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who was found dead in the cockpit of a Cessna 152 that went down just north of the Fort Rice Recreation Area south of Mandan yesterday around 2:30pm. Miller was flying in the area taking low-altitude photographs.

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Yesterday a 35-year-old out-of-state pilot crashed his plane in the Missouri River. Morton County Sheriff’s Department was able to remove his body within an hour of the crash.

Today, as Malique Rankin reports, Morton County sent it’s dive team to pull the plane out of the water.

The plane retrieval efforts began at 10 a.m. Morton County Dive Rescue sent out 2 boats, one with a tow line. Getting the plane from the water was no easy feat. 

Jim Martin; Morton County Dive Rescue Volunteer: “We went out there with some airbags. We knew if we got them under the wings, with the depth of water, we’d be able to get it up high enough so that we could tow it back in.”

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier says his team was prepared, but this was a new challenge.

Kyle Kirchmeier; Morton County Sheriff: “No, not like this to where we actually hooked up an airplane and pulled it out of the river. This was the first time we did this.”

Jim Martin; Morton County Dive Rescue Volunteer: “It was actually somewhat easier because it’s lighter than most cars or boats are.”

Morton County wanted to remove the plane quickly, to preserve it for investigation.

Kyle Kirchmeier; Morton County Sheriff: “The less time its out there, the better off it is for the investigation. We wanted to get it removed so that it’s not a sight that other boaters and everyone wants to come up to.”

The plane will be stored at the Mandan Municipal Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration will then take over the investigation, searching for the cause of crash.

Morton county has notified the family of the pilot’s death. 

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