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On September 14, 1995, approximately 1400 Alaska daylight time, a float equipped Cessna 185 airplane, N90033, registered to and operated by the pilot, crashed on a small, unnamed glacier near Baird Glacier, located 23 miles northwest of Petersburg, Alaska. The pilot, also an Air Taxi operator, was between air taxi flights and was attempting to move his own and his hunting partner's gear to a hunting site near Farragut Lake. Farragut Lake, the intended destination, is located approximately 6 miles northwest of the accident site. The personal flight was operating under 14 CFR Part 91 and departed Petersburg approximately 1300. No flight plan was filed and visual meteorological conditions prevailed throughout the area. According to search and rescue personnel, they saw many areas of patchy fog and obscured mountain tops during the search. The commercial certificated pilot and the passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed.
There are no known witnesses to the accident.
INJURIES TO PERSONS
Both occupants of the airplane received fatal injuries.
DAMAGE TO AIRCRAFT
The airplane's cockpit and cabin was destroyed by impact forces. The engine and propeller were pushed into the instrument panel and cockpit area. The cabin doors were separated from the airplane and the door frames were unrecognizable. The cabin/fuselage was crushed rearward and distorted as far back as the rear cabin passenger window.
Both wings remained in their proximate correct position, but the cabin structure, where they normally attach, was cut away by rescue personnel. The cabin top was displaced rearward and upward in relation to the airplane's longitudinal axis. Both wings were crushed along their entire leading edge. The upper wing skin on both wings was buckled in various places at varying degrees.
The horizontal stabilizer tip was damaged on the left side. The right side was undamaged. The elevator, vertical fin, and rudder were undamaged.
The floats remained attached to the aft portion of the fuselage and to each other by the wire braces. The nose of both floats was crushed upward and rearward as far back as the forward spreader bar.
The pilot owned a single airplane, single pilot Air Taxi Operation called Mearig Air. He had completed a charter flight prior to this flight and had passengers on the Petersburg dock, awaiting his return.
According to information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Standards District Office in Juneau, Alaska, the pilot received a biennial flight review equivalency in the form of a 14 CFR Part 135 checkride on June 30, 1995, in a Cessna 185 airplane.
According to the medical records, located at FAA Airman Records in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the pilot indicated a total flight time of 2000 hours on April 21, 1995. A review of the airplane records show that between May of 1995 and the date of the accident, the airplane had flown an additional 448 hours. The Investigator's estimate of the pilot's total time is 2,448 hours at the time of the accident.
An inspection of the airplane and engine records showed that the airplane had a total time of 7780.5 hours on the morning of September 14, 1995, the day of the accident. The airplane and engine received a 100 hour inspection approximately 17 flight hours earlier on August 31, 1995. The airplane received an annual inspection on May 2, 1995.
The engine, a Continental IO-520-D, serial number 293080-R, received its last inspection on August 31, 1995, and had a total time of 604.2 hours at the time of inspection. According to the pilot's maintenance flight log, the engine had a total time of 621 hours at the time of the accident.
There are no weather reporting facilities located at the accident site or the intended destination. The nearest weather facility is located at Petersburg, 23 miles southeast of the accident site. The 1355 weather observation for Petersburg called for ceilings estimated to be 3,000 broken, visibility 15 miles, temperature 55 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 52 degrees Fahrenheit, winds from 030 degrees at 4 knots, altimeter setting of 30.17 inches of mercury. The observation cited low stratus clouds to the south.
According to information provided to the FAA Regional Operations Center, the pilot received a weather briefing from Sitka Flight Service Station at 1108 that morning and was told that VFR was not recommended. The pilot filed a VFR flight plan and flew to Petersburg and upon arrival he closed his flight plan. There is no record of the pilot filing a pilot report.
Rescue personnel, who located the airplane wreckage at 1950, approximately 5 hours and 50 minutes after the accident occurred, stated that they were able to land at the site but the weather was deteriorating. The pilot of the Coast Guard helicopter described the weather as "clear with clouds at 4,000 feet with occasional fog coming down from the glacier."
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane wreckage was located at an elevation of 3,450 feet, on a glacier, at geographic coordinates 57 degrees, 9.6 minutes north, and 132 degrees, 54.1 minutes west. The glacier was in a pass that aligned with 352 degrees, and 133 degrees relative to the airplane wreckage. The floats were impacted in the glacier in a near vertical attitude with a slight lean toward the left float. The airplane's fuselage and wings aligned with the floats, but the aft portion of the fuselage was bent over to the left and was resting on the tip of the left horizontal stabilizer. The airplane wreckage aligned with a magnetic heading of 315 degrees.
The surface on which the airplane crashed was snow covered glacier ice. The surface had an 11 degree downslope in the direction of 352 degrees, which was the intended direction of flight. The surrounding terrain, on the east and west side of the pass, varied in height from 4,500 feet to 5,000 feet above mean sea level.
The cockpit and instrument panel could not be documented due to impact damage. The throttle control was found in the full power position, the mixture control was in the full rich position, and the propeller control was in the high RPM position.
The mounting structure, which held the throttle, mixture and propeller controls, was separated from the instrument panel and was resting in the wreckage debris. The cable ends remained attached to their respective correct connections. The position of the flaps at the time of the accident was undeterminable. Flight control continuity was established from the wing's flight control surfaces to the wing roots, and from the tail surfaces to a point in the aft cabin. Continuity from the described points to the control yoke could not be determined due to impact damage.
The quantity of fuel on board the airplane could not be determined. There was fuel located in the wing's fuel tanks and there was a distinct fuel odor in the wreckage.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The autopsy was accomplished in Juneau, Alaska, by doctor Michael W. Stewart, M.D., under the direction and authorization of the State of Alaska Medical Examiner's Office, East Tudor Road, Anchorage, Alaska.
The toxicological report was completed by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute's Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, and the results were negative.
TEST AND RESEARCH
The engine was removed from the wreckage and shipped to Continental Motors factory in Mobile, Alabama. The engine was inspected and disassembled on February 6, 1996. The process was attended by Mr. Rich Parker, NTSB, from the Los Angeles, CA Regional Office.
The report prepared by Teledyne Continental Motors stated the following: "In conclusion, this engine exhibited normal operational signatures throughout. All internal components appeared well lubricated. This engine did not exhibit any condition that would have caused an operational problem."