This month marks the 40th anniversary of the December 4, 1978, crash of Rocky Mountain Airways Flight 217 in snow-covered terrain at 10,530 feet MSL near a place called Buffalo Pass, about 8 nautical miles east-northeast of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The de Havilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otter had 22 on board: the captain, first officer and 20 passengers, including an infant. All 22 survived the impact. One woman died in the wreckage about four hours later. The captain died of his injuries at a hospital some 70 hours after the accident.
The dynamics of how the plane hit, the snow covered terrain on which it went down, its structural integrity, the use of survival skills, and rescuers being able to locate and reach the remote crash site combined to create not what many view as a tragedy, but what’s been characterized by those directly affected as a miracle.