On July 29, 1994, at approximately 1800 Alaska daylight time, a skid equipped Bell 206 helicopter, N90315, registered to Wolverine Leasing and operated by Alaska West Air, Inc., collided with terrain at the 10,980 ft. level of Mt. Spur while maneuvering to land on the summit. The elevation of the summit is 11,070 ft. msl. The coordinates of the accident are 61.81'N/ 152.15'W. The commercial certificated pilot-in-command and one passenger received serious injuries, and three passengers were not injured. The helicopter sustained substantial damage. The flight, which was being conducted under the non-scheduled regulatory requirements contained in 14 CFR Part 135, originated on the afternoon of July 28, 1994 at Kenai, Alaska for the purpose of filming a snow boarding movie on Mt. Spur. On July 28, 1994, the aircraft, pilot, and passengers spent the night at Chakaphamna Lake, near the foot of the mountain, before commencing filming activity on Mt. Spur the following day. A company VFR flight plan was in effect and visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area of the mishap site. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
On the morning of August 3, 1994, the NTSB investigator-in- charge (IIC) conducted a telephone interview with the pilot. With the approval of the attending nurse, the pilot spoke to the IIC from his hospital room at the Valley Medical Center in Renton, Washington. The pilot reported that he had flown the helicopter to the summit on three previous occasions, each time with three passengers on board. The flight on which the mishap occurred was his first flight to the summit with 4 passengers. On his initial flight to the summit, he placed wind flags far enough away from the landing zone (LZ) so that the movement of the flags would not be affected by the helicopters downwash. Prior to departing for the summit on the accident flight, he did not perform a weight and balance check or review the helicopters performance charts. From personal experience, he believed that the all up weight of the helicopter may have been close to but not beyond the maximum authorized operating weight of 3,200 pounds. The flight departed the "high" LZ, located at the 10,500 ft. msl. level, at around 1800 en route to the summit. The weather was clear. The ambient temperature was warm enough that he clothed his upper torso with only a T shirt. He began the approach to the summit LZ from the east with minimum fuel or about 12 minutes of air time.
The velocity of the wind on top of the summit was cyclic in that there would be a steady breeze for a short period then the wind would die down. On his previous summit landings he was able to time his approach and landing with the steady state wind as indicated by the wind flags sticking straight out. On the flight in which the accident occurred, he made a steep approach and maneuvered the helicopter to within about 2 feet vertical and 4 feet horizontal from the summit LZ when he saw the wind flags go limp. The helicopter immediately started to settle, despite the use of full collective. He applied full right pedal and pointed the nose of the helicopter downward, paralleling the slope of the mountain. The engine RPM and airspeed began to fall off. He intentionally hooked the right skid into the snow in an attempt to prevent the helicopter from careening down the mountain. The pilot said that he had no difficulty with the helicopter, that the only problem he had was that, "I ran out of wind at the summit." The pilot said that he had about 8000 flight hours in helicopters, mostly in Bell Jet Rangers.
The helicopter was equipped with an Alaskan Sky-Craft Transporter Kit in accordance with STC Number SH515AL. The STC limited the helicopter at gross weights above 3,000 pounds to a maximum approved operating altitude of 9,000 ft. msl.
The toxicological testing on the pilot was negative.