NTSB Identification: ANC97FA002.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, October 02, 1996 in PALMER, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-18, registration: N64RS
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot was departing his 700 feet long grass strip in a tundra-tire/tail-wheel equipped airplane to transport a passenger to a hunting area. The airplane climbed to about 100 feet above the ground while in a slight right turn. The pilot described the airplane's tail as suddenly being pushed downward by a gust of wind. The airplane then descended in a right wing and nose low attitude toward the ground, through two strands of high voltage electrical wires. The pilot recalled seeing sparks emanating from the right wingtip. The airplane struck the ground in a small grove of trees 2/10 of a mile from the departure end of the runway, and a postcrash fire erupted. No mechanical malfunction of the engine was found. The pilot reported the wind conditions as light and variable. Wind conditions from an airport 1/2 mile northeast of the accident site, one half hour before the accident, were reported as 9 knots. One half hour after the accident, the wind conditions were 15 knots with gusts to 32 knots. Local residents reported strong gusty winds throughout the area. No evidence was found that the pilot had obtained an official weather briefing.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the pilot's inadequate compensation for wind conditions and failure to maintain adequate airspeed, which resulted in an inadvertent stall. The unfavorable wind condition was a related factor.

Full narrative available

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