Single-Engine Turboprop Accident in South Dakota Kills Nine

Three survivors are listed in stable condition.

NTSB investigator examining wreckage
An NTSB air safety investigator begins the initial examination of the wreckage of the Pilatus PC-12 that crashed on Nov. 30, 2019 in Chamberlain, South Dakota.NTSB

This year’s Thanksgiving holiday weekend turned tragic on Saturday, November 30, when a Pilatus PC-12–N56KJ–carrying 12 people crashed into a cornfield shortly after takeoff from Chamberlin Municipal Airport (9V9), approximately 50 miles southeast of Pierre, South Dakota. The aircraft was destined for Idaho Falls, Idaho. All aboard were members of the same Idaho family. Nine people died in the accident, including two young children, while three men, ages 17, 27 and 28, survived and are currently reported in stable condition at a Sioux Falls hospital. The aircraft was destroyed in the accident.

At the time of the accident, about 12:30 pm local, the Sioux City area was wrestling with a major winter snowstorm that forecast ice, snow and winds up to 40 mph. The storm created conditions at 9V9 that included one-half-mile visibility in moderate snow beneath a 500-foot ceiling with a temperature of +1 Celsius. That meant the airport was right at landing minimums at the time the aircraft departed. The PC-12 is certified for flight into known icing, and the flight was believed to have been operating under Part 91. The aircraft was sitting outside during its time on the ground. There is no evidence at the moment of whether the aircraft was deiced prior to departure.

The National Transportation Safety Board immediately dispatched a go-team to the area, but blizzard-like conditions prevented access to the wreckage until Monday, December 2. Pilatus Aircraft also dispatched a team of safety investigators to assist the NTSB. While this aircraft was not equipped with a flight data recorder, it was ADS-B equipped, which experts believe will help investigators determine aircraft performance by evaluating the flight track, altitude and speed from takeoff to the end of the flight.