NTSB Identification: ANC93FA027.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 50590.
Accident occurred Monday, January 18, 1993 in TELLER, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/28/1994
Aircraft: CESSNA 310, registration: N1776G
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 AIRPLANE COLLIDED WITH NEARLY LEVEL TERRAIN ABOUT 3 MI SE OF THE DESTINATION AIRPORT. THE TERRAIN WAS SNOW COVERED, FEATURELESS, UNILLUMINATED, AND THE NIGHT SKY WAS VERY DARK. THE AIRPORT IS NOT SERVED BY ANY NAVIGATION AIDS. NAVIGATION IN THE AREA IS DONE BY 'PILOTAGE.' WITNESS REPORTS INDICATED THE VISIBILITY OF GROUND REFERENCE OBJECTS WAS NOT POSSIBLE DUE TO THE TOTAL DARKNESS AND LACK OF CONTRAST WITH COMPLETE SNOW COVERED TERRAIN. THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED PRIOR TO THE ONSET OF CIVIL TWILIGHT. NO RECORD OF PRE-DAWN COMPANY FLIGHTS BY THE PILOT DURING THE PAST 90 DAYS WERE FOUND. CESSNA AIRCRAFT COMPANY PROVIDES A WARNING 'FEATURELESS TERRAIN ILLUSION, AN ABSENCE OF GROUND FEATURES, AS WHEN LANDING OVER WATER, DARKENED AREAS AND TERRAIN MADE 'FEATURELESS BY SNOW' CAN CREATE THE ILLUSION THAT THE AIRPLANE IS AT A HIGHER ALTITUDE THAN IT ACTUALLY IS. THE PILOT WHO DOES NOT RECOGNIZE THIS ILLUSION WILL TEND TO FLY A LOWER APPROACH.'

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

THE PILOT-IN-COMMAND'S FAILURE TO MAINTAIN AN ADEQUATE TERRAIN AVOIDANCE ALTITUDE. FACTORS WHICH CONTRIBUTED TO THE ACCIDENT WERE THE DARK NIGHT AND FEATURELESS SNOW COVERED TERRAIN, BOTH WHICH CREATED A 'FEATURELESS TERRAIN ILLUSION' WHICH PROBABLY LED THE PILOT TO VISUALLY OVERESTIMATE HIS ALTITUDE.

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