Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Lara Love
Editor Publisher 

Thermopolis pilot dies in airplane crash


by Lara Love

The crash of a small aircraft in northern Wyoming claimed the life of Thermopolis pilot Grant Belden, 34, Wednesday, Dec. 7.

Belden was a pilot and wildlife specialist employed through the State of Wyoming Wildlife Services. They operate under the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Passenger, Miles Hausner, 56, of Worland was injured in the crash and transported to Billings.

The two men left the Worland airport on Dec. 7 on a predator control reconnaissance flight. The Big Horn County Sheriff’s Department received information regarding a downed aircraft in Big Horn County (BHC) at 11:22 a.m. A search for the men and crash investigation began immediately.

Several agencies including the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, BHC Search and Rescue, BHC Emergency Management, BHC Sheriff’s Office and BHC Coroners Office conducted the search with the assistance of REACH Air Medical Service, Park County Sheriff Scott Stewart, Park County Search and Rescue and Sky Aviation.

The downed aircraft was located in a rugged, remote location southwest of an area known as the Wardell reservoir, off of Dorsey Creek Road. The nearest town in the area is Otto, Wyo.

Once emergency personnel were on the scene, it was determined both occupants were trapped inside the plane and extraction efforts began. Belden died at the scene of the crash. Additional information on Hausner’s condition was not available at press time.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were notified of the crash and the investigation into the cause of the crash was turned over to them. A preliminary cause of the crash should be released this week, with a full probable cause report and findings within one year.

According to Mike Foster, State Director of Wildlife Services, Belden went to work for the USDA in 2007 as a wildlife specialist. For several years, Belden flew as a passenger providing predator control services. Belden, who possessed both a private and commercial flying license, began performing pilot duties with the agency a few years ago.

“We loved Grant and Grant loved his job,” said Foster.

He added, “He was a dedicated, hard working, exemplary employee and our hearts go out to his family.”

Belden, a 2001 graduate of Hot Springs County High School, leaves behind a wife and two young sons.

An account has been set up at Bank of Thermopolis for memorial contributions going toward the children's education.

A Go Fund Me account has also been set up for the family to help with immediate expenses. To donate, visit and search for Grant Belden Family Fund.


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