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ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: [IAC] More on Tragedy in Big Sky


Thread: [IAC] More on Tragedy in Big Sky

Message: [IAC] More on Tragedy in Big Sky

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From: Klein Gilhousen <kleing at>

Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 18:44:58 UTC


  Not too much additional has been learned as to the cause of the fatal
mid-air collision between Jim Gier's Pitts S2B and a Cessna 182 with two on
board.  The collision happened just before 3pm Sunday, Dec 11 about 6nm
south-east of the Bozeman airport.  Weather was not a factor as there was a
high thin overcast at the time with excellent visibility.  The 182 was
passing over the Bozeman area in route between the Whitehall, MT and Red
Lodge, MT.  Jim was up for a fun flight.  The collision apparently happened
at about 8000 MSL with the airplanes meeting near head-on.  Although Jim
was wearing a parachute there is nothing to indicate that he was able to
attempt a bailout.  The condition of the airplane and the severity of the
collision makes me think that he we probably unable to do anything to
evacuate the aircraft.  

There are a few, apparently spurious, reports that Jim was doing aerobatics
immediately preceding the collision.  I doubt this very much as the
collision happened near centerline of the V86 airway and Jim was very aware
of this and would not have been doing acro there.  I tracked down one of
the witnesses that was quoted in the newspaper article and he agreed that
the newspaper had significantly misquoted him and that he did NOT see Jim
doing aerobatics before the collision.  I'm going to keep after this to
make sure these kinds of errors don't creep into the record.  

I've excerpting the following from the obituary that appeared in today's
Bozeman newspaper.  
" James "Jim" Gier, 56, of Bozeman, died Sunday, Dec 7, 1997, flying the
love of his life - his Pitts S2B.  Jim graduated from Monrovia (CA) High
School and attended Pasadena City College.  He acquired his private pilot's
license in 1966 and has flown ever since.  

Jim married Roberta "Bobbie" Harbert on Feb 9, 1963 in Las Vegas, Nev.  

He owned and operated Valley Machine and Engineering and Montana Vintage Arms.

He was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association and president of
the International Aerobatics Club, Chapter 110.  Jim was a collector of
classic automobiles and antique rifles, and he had a passion for vintage
aircraft.  He also enjoyed hunting, fishing, history and shooting black
powder cartridge silhouette.

A funeral service will be at 11 am Friday, Dec 12, at Evangelical Free
Church, 1701 S. 19th Ave. Interment at Sunset Hills Cemetery.  Memorials in
his name may be made to the International Aerobatics Club, Chapter 110, c/o
Paul Newby, 411 Mountain View Drive, Bozeman 59718."

I'm trying to organize a missing man formation for the funeral.  But the
weather has to cooperate and right now it's snowing with about 1 mile viz.
And we need some time to practice as not all of us (me, particularly) have
any experience with formation flying.  We sure don't want to compound the

Klein Gilhousen
Vice President, IAC Chapter 110, The Big Sky Chapter


© Dr. Günther Eichhorn
Email Guenther Eichhorn