It was supposed to be a family vacation.

Dr. Irving "Bud" Feldkamp, a longtime Redlands resident and prominent local businessman, was expecting two of his children, daughters Vanessa and Amy, and their families for a week of skiing at an exclusive Montana resort.

Their plane, however, went down on Sunday, killing two of his daughters, two sons-in-law and five grandchildren along with the pilot and four family friends.

Feldkamp learned of the tragedy in a call from his nephew, who saw it on CNN.

"He said, `Nobody survived.' And we knew it was our plane," Feldkamp said Monday.

Feldkamp, who runs a San Bernardino dental practice and serves as president of Glen Helen Raceway, had planned for a week-long vacation with his extended family at the Yellowstone Club, a millionaires-only resort south of Bozeman, Mont.

Members of the Feldkamp family, led by Bud Feldkamp, second from left,who lost two daughters and five grandchildren in the crash,  are seenat the scene of
Members of the Feldkamp family, led by Bud Feldkamp, second from left, who lost two daughters and five grandchildren in the crash, are seen at the scene of fatal airline crash outside the Butte Airport in Butte, Mont., on Monday, March. 23, 2009. (The Associated Press)

He drove out from California with his wife and another daughter, and they had planned to get together with the rest of the family Sunday night.

The plane, a single-engine turboprop flown by Bud Summerfield of Highland, crashed into a Catholic cemetery near the Butte airport and burst into flames. All 14 aboard were killed.

Doomed flight

Feldkamp's cousin, David Feldkamp, said the plane took off from Redlands on Sunday and flew to Vacaville to pick up Bud Feldkamp's daughters - Vanessa Poullen and Amy Jacobsen - and their families. Summerfield then flew to Oroville to pick up friends of the Feldkamps, Brent Ching and his family. From Oroville, the plane, a Pilatus PC-12, was headed for Bozeman, Mont., but changed course to Butte, where it crashed on final approach Sunday.

The pilot gave no indication to air traffic controllers that the aircraft was experiencing difficulty when he asked to divert to an airport in Butte, said Mark Rosenker, acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

The plane crashed Sunday afternoon just short of the Bert Mooney Airport in Butte. The Butte airport does not have radar control.

Investigators initially were concerned that there were 14 people on a plane designed to carry only 10, but speculation over the crash had shifted to ice on the wings Monday as the likely cause once it became clear that seven of those on board were children under 10.

As it prepared to land in Butte, the plane likely passed through an air layer where the temperature was below freeing and the air "had 100 percent relative humidity or was saturated," according to AccuWeather.

Safety experts said similar icing conditions existed when a Continental Airlines twin-engine turboprop crashed into a home near Buffalo Niagara International Airport last month, killing 50. A possible stall created by ice, and the pilot's reaction to it, has been the focus of the Buffalo investigation.

"It's Buffalo all over again, or it could be," said John Goglia, a former member of the National Transportation Safety Board. "Icing, given those conditions, is certainly going to be high on the list of things to look at for the investigators."

Rosenker told reporters in Montana that investigators would look at icing on the wings as a factor.

"We will be looking at everything as it relates to the weather," he said.

Family grieves

Bud Feldkamp on Monday visited the site of the crash with his wife, their two surviving children and other family members.

"We were going on a vacation with all the grandkids," he told the Associated Press. "They were all excited about skiing."

Also on the scene was Bob Ching, who was to have hosted the Feldkamps this week at his house at the Yellowstone Club. Ching's son, his son's wife and their two children also were killed in the crash.

For about 45 minutes, they stood near the twisted and charred debris, talking with investigators as a light snow fell. Scattered across the site were tarps covering the remains of the victims.

David Feldkamp was grief-stricken as he described the Feldkamp family tragedy Monday.

"This family is so incredibly close," he said. "I consider (Bud's) children my own children."

Bud Feldkamp has two other children who were not aboard the flight to Montana - Irving Feldkamp IV and Maggie Cotton, both of Redlands.

Fred Ford, a Redlands logger and friend to the Feldkamp family, said the Feldkamp's four children grew up across the street from him and learned to swim in his swimming pool.

"This is a wonderful family," Ford said Monday. "They are all so closely connected to each other.

Monica Corcoran, a family friend to the Feldkamps for about 30 years, said she used to play racquetball with Pamela Feldkamp.

"I'm so sorry for their loss," Corcoran said Monday in front of Feldkamp's home on Dwight Street.

The Associated Press contributed to this report


VICTIMS IDENTIFIED

A plane crash in Butte, Mont., killed 14 people, many of them relatives of longtime Redlands businessman Irving "Bud" Feldkamp. The victims include two of Feldkamp's daughters, their husbands and children, the pilot of the plane and four others:

Vanessa Feldkamp Poullen, 37; her husband, Michael, 39;, and their children, 10-year-old Sydney and 7-year-old Christopher.

Amy Feldkamp Jacobsen, 34; her husband Erin, 36; and their children, 4-year-old Taylor, 3-year-old Ava and 1-year-old Jude.

Family friends Brent Ching, 37; his wife Kristin, 31; and their children, 5-year-old Hailey and 3-year-old Caleb.

The pilot, Bud Summerfield, 65, of Highland.