On January 10, 1999, about 1351 Alaska standard time, a wheel equipped Cessna 172 airplane, N8373L, sustained substantial damage while landing at the Bethel Airport, Bethel, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) local area flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The solo private pilot was not injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated at the Bethel airport, about 1340.

During a telephone conversation with the NTSB investigator-in-charge on January 10, the pilot stated that she had departed the accident airport under a special VFR clearance. The pilot reported that shortly after a northeasterly departure, severe icing conditions were encountered, and she elected to return to the Bethel airport. She said that forward visibility was restricted due to heavy ice build-up on the airplane's windscreen, requiring her to do a series of "S" turns to find the airport. She reported that just prior to touchdown, the airplane stalled above the runway threshold, and landed hard in a nose low attitude. She stated, in part: "I just got into icing conditions. That's what caused it."

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings, and fuselage.

The pilot noted that there were no preaccident mechanical anomalies with the airplane.

The closest weather observation station is located in Bethel. On January 10, at 1353, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting in part: Wind, 060 degrees at 10 knots; visibility, 2 statute miles in light snow and mist; clouds, 600 feet broken, 1,700 feet overcast; temperature, 6 degrees F; dew point, 3 degrees F; altimeter, 29.99 inHg; remarks, ceiling variable between 500 feet and 1,000 feet.

In her written statement to the NTSB, the pilot noted that her predeparture weather information was obtained from the Bethel automatic terminal information service (ATIS), and the recorded automated weather observation system (AWOS) message close to her intended destination.

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