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CLINTON – Two people died Sunday afternoon when a single-engine plane crashed on the edge of Interstate 90 as it appeared to be attempting to land at the Rock Creek Airport south of Clinton.

Missoula County Sheriff’s Department Patrol Captain Bill Burt said witnesses said the plane appeared to be attempting to land at the south end of the runway.

“Something went drastically wrong,’’ he said. “The plane was trying to climb and appeared to have stalled.’’

Witnesses told the sheriff's office the pilot appeared to try to pull up but flew through a tall stand of aspen trees and “the first impact was through these trees," Burt said.

The pilot did not file a flight plan.

“As best we know,’’ Burt said, “it was a trip from Missoula to that airstrip to visit some friends.’’

The plane was registered to a Ronan resident. The sheriff’s office is still trying to contact family members of the two passengers, whom they did not identify.

The tail of the Cessna 182-D was intact, lying on the edge of the I-90 shoulder. The front portion of the plane was destroyed and the crash ignited a grass fire that the Clinton Rural Fire Department put out.

Both passengers died at the scene, Burt said.

The right lane of eastbound I-90 was shut down for several hours Sunday afternoon to keep traffic and onlookers away from the scene. Burt said the National Transportation Safety Board is expected to arrive Monday to complete an investigation into the crash.

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