Jet crash kills two at Dillon
By Nick Gevock, of The Montana Standard - 05/04/2007
A Chicago businessman who owned a ranch near Twin Bridges and his passenger were killed Thursday morning when the small jet they were flying crashed while trying to land at the Beaverhead County Airport at Dillon.
Allan Hamilton and John Wauterlek, both residents of Illinois, died at the scene of the accident, Beaverhead County Coroner Ron Briggs said late Thursday.
Hamilton was flying his Cessna Citation 550 twin-engine jet around 10:40 a.m. when he lost control and crashed in a farm field just east of the airport, Beaverhead County Sheriff Jay Hansen said in a press release. The airplane exploded on impact, the sheriff said.
The plane was flying into Dillon from Rockford, Ill., which is near Chicago, according to the flight plan Hamilton had filed, Hansen said.
When Dillon city/county firefighters arrived with five vehicles, the plane only had small flames coming from it, Fire Chief Scott Marsh said in a telephone interview.
The initial impact burned all the fuel that was on the airplane, he said.
Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration arrived on the scene Thursday afternoon to determine the cause of the crash. They were to be joined in the evening by officials with the National Transportation Safety Board who were on route, Hansen said.
Rain and heavy snow fell off and on throughout the morning in Dillon, making visibility difficult at times. But investigators were still working on the case to pinpoint what went wrong.
Hamilton was a principal in Hamilton Partners, a Chicago area real estate firm with large holdings of commercial and residential properties in the metropolitan area.
He grew up in Columbia Falls and graduated from high school in 1955 and Northwestern University in 1959. He was a Navy aviator until 1965. He had owned the Twin Bridges ranch for over 15 years.
The community of Twin Bridges was stunned upon hearing of Hamiltons death, said Carol Giem, a local rancher. She said Hamiltons generosity and sense of community made him popular in the area.
Twin Bridges will be reeling from this for a long time, she said.
Reporter Nick Gevock may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. By Nick Gevock of The Montana Standard
[ FAA ]](http://www.faa.gov/data_statistics/accident_incident/preliminary_data/events06/media/01_22HP.txt) FAA preliminary report