NTSB Identification: ANC97LA025.
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Accident occurred Saturday, February 01, 1997 in SKWENTNA, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/04/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-22, registration: N7235D
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The noninstrument-rated private pilot and two passengers were on a cross country flight on top of an overcast at 10,000 feet msl when the pilot radioed FAA air traffic controllers for assistance. The pilot told controllers he thought he was a few miles from Anchorage, Alaska, his intended destination, but he was actually about 124 miles northwest of Anchorage. The pilot was asked if he could turn towards and cross a nearby mountain range to reach VFR conditions. He indicated he did not have enough fuel left, and that he was presently flying through the tops of the overcast. During his communications with the controllers, the pilot noted a marked disparity between his wet compass and his gyro driven heading indicator; he also said his only electronic navigation instrument aboard, a loran, was not reliable. Radio contact was lost with the pilot, and soon thereafter, an ELT was heard. The airplane was discovered crashed in a near vertical position on a glacier. Postaccident inspection disclosed no mechanical anomalies with the airplane and a functional loran. About five to six gallons of fuel was remaining in the left wing fuel tank.

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

The pilot's continued VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions, and subsequent failure to maintain control of the airplane. Factors associated with the accident are the pilot's inadequate weather evaluation, his becoming lost/disoriented, and spatial disorientation.

Full narrative available

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