NTSB Identification: ANC00FA052.
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Accident occurred Monday, May 01, 2000 in KOTZEBUE, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/10/2001
Aircraft: Piper PA-18, registration: N3935Z
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 pilot, the holder of an expired student pilot certificate, departed a remote village with a load of whale meat. The route of flight was along the coast of the Bering Sea, over snow-covered terrain, adjacent to snow-covered sea ice. The weather conditions along the route consisted of low ceilings with areas of fog and snow showers. The pilot did not file a flight plan. He was not reported overdue, and no ELT signal was received from the airplane. The wreckage was discovered by passing villagers about 3/4 mile inland from the coastline. The airplane collided with terrain and came to rest inverted. No preimpact mechanical malfunction was discovered. According to relatives, the pilot, who was not an aviation mechanic, maintained the airplane himself, and no maintenance records were located.

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 his failure to maintain control of the airplane due to spatial disorientation. Factors in the accident were weather conditions consisting of low ceilings, fog, a whiteout, and the pilot's lack of certification.

Full narrative available

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