Tragedy at 12,000 feet
This west facing unplanned hike happened June 30, 1969. I was 18 years old at the time and was working in the Red Devil mine that myfamily leased. The mine was in the timber line below Mt. Tukuhnikivatz atabout 10,800 feet. Along the mountain road to the mine properties Charlie (the head miner) and I had for several days been observing an unusual feature on thetop of the mountain that became barely apparent with the melting snows. The feature had been pointed out to Charlie the week before by an acquaintance visiting from Texas that walked up to the mine from the M4 Ranch which was a half day trek. On Monday, June 30th, we worked most of the day and about 4:00PM decided that we were going to investigate what we were seeing. Our binoculars did provide some evidence that something was there. We just didn't know what it was. Our unplanned assent started with a canteen of water, flashlight and anelectric miner light. The initial climb was through Aspen groves which was easy to maneuver and then dense brush making going slow. We immerged from the timberline after about 3 hours. After hiking about 4 hours we began to run into debris fields of clothing and a couple of hours more we began finding metallic fragments. Thankful for the clear evening sky and the west facing hike, we had significant natural light to compensate for our clearly inadequate lamps. It wasn't until about 10 PM that we climbed to the saddle between Little Tuk North and below Tukuhnikivatz peak. Being the first to the wreckage I found a small single engine airplane upside down. I searched inside the plane through the broken out window and there was no one inside. The plane appeared to be flying from the North West crashing nose first with the momentum flipping the plane in the saddle. Had the plane another 50 or so feet in elevation it possiblywould have cleared the saddle.
Flying from Farmington, New Mexico to Billings, Montana, in a small single engine plane, Don and Karen Pullman were lost. According to UPI on Monday, November 18, 1968, “the search for a light plane with a California couple on board missing since Wednesday on a flight from Farmington, New Mexico to Billings continued without luck Sunday. More than 10 light planes look to the air and sheriffs' officers and volunteers conducted a ground search for the plane, piloted by Don Pullman of Torrance, Calif. A search spokesman at Lynch Flight Service, Logan Field, Billings, said Pullman was accompanied by his wife. The plane disappeared Wednesday after Pullman radioed to Logan Field saying he was over Acton (Montana) and approaching for a landing. Searchers said this was strange since Acton was northwest of Billings and a plane coming into the state from the south would not normally fly over Acton. Therefore, they said the search was being expanded south of Billings on the theory that Hullman was mistaken in his position. The search did not get into high gear until Friday after it was found that Pullman,an engineer, never reported at the Montana Power Co. steam plant where he hadmade an appointment to do some work. Prior to that, he had been doing some,work in the Farmington area”.
On Tuesday, November 12, 1968, according to the Billings(AP), “Private aircraft from the Billings area took to the air again Monday in their search for some clue to the whereabouts of a light plane with two aboard missing since Wednesday on a flight to Billings from Farmington, New Mexico. More than 20 aircraft combed the Billings-Acton area Sunday to no avail, John Lynch, search coordinator said. Missing are the pilot, Don Hullman, 25, and his wife Karen, 22, of Cleveland, Ohio. Don Hullman, an electrical engineer for the Bailey Meter Co, of Cleveland, had been working in Billings in connection with the operation of the new Montana Power Co. steam electric generating plant. Pullman's last radio message said he was about 15 miles north of Billings. Pullman's parents arrived in Billings from Columbus, Ohio, Saturday and the senior Pullman assisted in search operations Sunday. Search coordinator John Lynch said efforts were being made to pinpoint Pullman's location when he was last heard from by radio”.