NTSB Identification: ANC02FA070.
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Accident occurred Thursday, July 04, 2002 in Cantwell, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/23/2003
Aircraft: Zawada Super Cuby, registration: N43Z
Injuries: 2 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 private certificated pilot departed with one passenger on a cross-country flight from a private airstrip in a tundra tire-equipped experimental/homebuilt airplane. Family members reported that the purpose of the flight was to show the passenger some Alaskan scenery. When the airplane did not return, the flight was reported overdue. Search personnel located the wreckage near the summit of a mountain pass at 5,000 feet msl, four days later. The airplane struck an area of upsloping rock and snow-covered terrain, in a near vertical attitude, and came to rest within a few feet of the initial ground scar. A postaccident examination of the airplane did not reveal any mechanical malfunctions. A postmortem toxicological examination of the pilot disclosed high levels of tramadol, a prescription painkiller, and paroxetine, a prescription antidepressant. Additionally, the toxicology report was consistent with the use of at least one other prescription painkiller. The pilot had been under treatment for neck and back pain with multiple medications. The pilot's performance and judgment were likely to have been impaired by the effects of the tramadol, particularly in combination with a second prescription painkiller.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed which resulted in an inadvertent stall, and subsequent collision with terrain. A contributing factor was the pilot's impairment from the effects of prescription painkilling drugs.

Full narrative available

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