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On July 18, 1994, at 1140 Alaska daylight time, a wheel equipped Piper PA31-310 (Navajo) airplane, N6CC, operated by Gulkana Air Service, Inc., collided with terrain during takeoff from runway 19 at the McCarthy No. 2 airport, McCarthy, Alaska. The airline transport certificated pilot-in-command and two passengers received minor injuries and five passengers received serious injuries. The airplane was destroyed and there was an on ground fire. The flight was conducted under the on demand rules contained in 14 CFR Part 135 for the purpose of transporting a group of foreign tourist to Anchorage, Alaska. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was on file with the Gulkana Flight Service Station (FSS).
Roscoe O. Van Camp, date of birth April 15, 1953, is the holder of Airline Transport Pilot certificate No. 557963209 with the ratings and limitations of airplane multiengine land, commercial privileges airplane single engine land and sea. His most recent Class II medical certificate, dated March 7, 1994, was void of limitations. He became employed by Gulkana Air Service on a part time basis in March 1992. Mr. Van Camp is a medical doctor by profession and is employed in that capacity at the hospital in Glennallen, Alaska. He did not work at the hospital on the evening of July 16, 1994. His initial and most recent recurrent training in the PA31-310 was April 22, 1992 and March 20, 1994, respectively. His most recent 14 CFR Part 135.293a, .293b, .299, and .297 checks were completed on March 7, 1994. Gulkana Air Service flight time records indicate that prior to the day of the accident, he last flew 2 hours on July 16, 1994, completing his last flight at 2000 hours.
On the afternoon of July 18, 1994, the NTSB investigator-in- charge conducted a telephone interview with the pilot of N6CC. The pilot said the plane had 90 gallons of fuel on board and the only cargo consisted of personal (carry on) items of the passengers. He characterized the weather as clear with light and variable wind. Prior to commencing the takeoff, he activated the plane's main wheel brakes by pulling the brake handle out. He then performed an operational check on the plane's engines and determined that all systems were normal. Afterwards, he said that he depressed the brake handle and received visual and sensory indications that the brakes were off. In preparation for the takeoff, he extended the flaps 15 degrees. He began the takeoff on runway 19, using all of the 3400 feet of gravel runway available. The surface of the runway was damp and void of standing water, and the wind was light and variable. He indicated that he had flown out of the airport about 30 or 40 times previously, mostly using runway 19. From his previous experience, the plane used about 2/3rds of the runway to become airborne. However, on the takeoff in question, the plane was slow to accelerate, despite the fact all engine indications were normal. He did not consider aborting the takeoff. The airplane became airborne at an indicated airspeed of approximately 70 miles per hour and about 600 feet from the end of the useable runway. The plane stayed in ground effect, and he believed that he retracted the landing gear. The airplane collided with trees just off the departure end of runway 19 and came to rest approximately 300 feet beyond the end of the runway. The pilot reported that he had several hundred hours in the airplane and that he had not noted any prior problems with the acceleration of the airplane.
The toxicology on the pilot was negative.
Five of the seven passengers on board the airplane were interviewed in Anchorage, Alaska. The passengers were united in their observation and characterization of the following: * There was little if any wind. * The runway appeared dry. * The pilot gave a pretakeoff briefing. * The pilot ran the engines up before takeoff. * The engines sounded normal. * The takeoff was commenced from the beginning of the runway. * The plane accelerated very slowly as it progressed down the runway. * The airplane was airborne only momentarily before colliding with the terrain.
Additionally, the passengers reported that two passenger seats on the left side of the airplane, just forward of the main entry/exit door (seats No.s 5 and 7) were loose prior to the takeoff and came out of their floor mounting during the crash.
The NTSB investigator-in-charge visited the accident site on the afternoon of July 19, 1994. Mr. Hugh Keith and Mr. Ken Epperson from the FAA's FSDO-03 in Anchorage, Alaska assisted in the on scene investigation. The airplane was found resting on its belly, about 170 feet beyond the end of the runway, in an area consisting of brush, small alters, and trees 10 inches or less in diameter. The elevation of the accident site was approximately 15 feet below the runway surface. The magnetic heading of the airplane was 157 degrees. The airplane remained essentially intact. The leading edge of both wings were crushed, with portions having been ripped away. Continuity was established with all flight control surfaces. The flaps were extended about 10 degrees. The cockpit flap selector was OFF, and the cockpit flap position indicator showed no extension. Seat No.s 5 and 7 were outside the airplane. The landing gear appeared to be retracted and the landing gear position handle in the cockpit was selected to the "UP" position. The left and right engine propeller blades exhibited similar distortion in aft bending and tip curling. The paint on the upper surface of the left wing was scorched. The scorched area was inboard of the engine nacelle, about 2/3rds back from the leading edge, and just above the landing gear bay. The parking brake handle was in the OFF position. Seat No.s 5 and 7 (two left seats forward of the main entry/exit door) were found outside the airplane. Examination of the seat to floor attachment pin fittings showed slight wear. The airframe seat attachment rails displayed slight burring and were worn. Continuity was established with the brake system. The parking brake could be set and released through the left brake pedals.
On the afternoon of August 26, 1994, the NTSB investigator-in-charge traveled to Glennallen, Alaska to examine the airplane in greater detail following its recovery from the accident site. The examination of both landing gear wheel assemblies revealed that the sidewalls of both tires had suffered thermal damage in the form of charring. The heat damage was centered primarily in the area where the tires seated up against their respective metal wheel rims. The brake pads were glazed. Portions of burned rubber and black soot were found in and around the area of the left and right landing gear bays.
The records on the airplane were reviewed at the operators facility in Glennallen, Alaska. No recent and/or outstanding problems were noted with the plane's powerplant or brake systems.
Ref: Navajo (PA-31) performance chart, revised February 20, 1981, gross weight 6500 pounds, ambient temperature 50 degrees fahrenheit, pressure altitude 1531 feet, no wind, the short field takeoff distance over a 50 foot obstacle with 15 degrees of flap using a paved level dry runway is approximately 2300 feet.