ANC95LA036
ANC95LA036

On March 20, 1995, about 1155 hours Alaska standard time, a Cessna 207A, N1719U, collided with terrain while maneuvering about 5 miles north of Bethel, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) scheduled commuter flight to Kalskag, Alaska, under Title 14 CFR Part 135 when the accident occurred. The airplane, operated as flight number 750 by Yute Air Alaska Inc., Anchorage, Alaska, sustained substantial damage.

The certificated commercial pilot and one passenger were not injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area of the accident. A company VFR flight plan was filed. The flight originated at Bethel Airport about 1130 hours.

The operator reported that when the flight departed, the pilot requested and was granted a Special VFR (SVFR) departure from the Bethel Air Traffic Control Zone. The pilot was initially flying about 1,000 feet mean sea level about 14 miles north of the airport when he encountered blowing snow and zero visibility. The pilot turned around and descended to about 500 feet and requested a SVFR arrival back to Bethel. While the pilot was maneuvering to intercept the 055 degree radial of the Bethel VOR, the airplane descended into flat snow covered terrain and received damage to the landing gear, wings, and fuselage.

The 1151 hours special weather observation from Bethel indicated in part: Sky partially obscured, measured ceiling 1,000 feet broken, 2,000 feet overcast; visibility, 2 1/2 miles in blowing snow; temperature, 5 degree F; dew point, -2 degree F; wind, 280 degrees at 20 knots; altimeter, 30.19 inHg; remarks, blowing snow covering 4/10 of the sky, visibility 2 miles variable to 4 miles, tower visibility 3 miles, overcast layer is partially thin. Section 524, Cold Weather Operations, of the operator's operations manual, flight operational procedures, states in part:

"F. Enroute, 1. Weather conditions vary considerably in cold climates. Snow showers and whiteouts are to be expected. When penetration is made of a snow shower, a pilot should be prepared to refer to the instruments as visibility may be quickly lost. 2. Another hazard which has claimed as its victims some very competent pilots, is a 'whiteout'. This condition is illusive and can occur under a high ceiling where the sun filters through and bounces off the snow covered terrain. The result is a loss of visual cues and one feels as if he were flying in a 'milk bottle'. The pilot should rely on his instruments rather than usual references when these conditions are encountered."

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