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Lost In The Clouds Over Idaho

The dramatic story of a visual flight rules pilot caught in thick clouds and ice between high mountain peaks and the air traffic controllers who helped him save his own life.

Lost In The Clouds Over Idaho
Illustration by Barry Ross

Tim Bendickson clambered into his rustic Cessna 182A. His worn jeans and chambray shirt meshed into N6122B’s spartan interior. The 1957 Skylane had spent the past decade trundling through northern Idaho’s splendor. Its teal paint mirrored the lush fields that unfurled amidst the surrounding valleys. 

The Cessna needed a new alternator and had been flown to the Boundary County Airport three weeks earlier for repair. The Cabinet Mountains jutted skyward in the east; the Selkirks rose to the west. Canada was 30 miles north. The temperature hovered just above freezing that November afternoon in 2019. The gray clouds aloft foreshadowed winter’s loom as the occluded sun edged toward the horizon.

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