ANC96LA014
ANC96LA014

On November 12, 1995, at 0945 Alaska standard time, a wheel equipped Bellanca airplane, model 8GCBC, N86922, registered to and operated by the pilot, crashed into Yakutat Bay while attempting to land on the beach near Yakutat, Alaska. The personal flight departed Icy Bay, Alaska, at 0815 and the destination was Yakutat. The pilot obtained a full weather briefing from the Juneau Flight Service Station and he filed a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of departure, but instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at Yakutat at the time of the accident. The certificated commercial pilot and passenger were not injured and the airplane was substantially damaged.

The Air Traffic Package submitted by the Air Traffic Evaluation Division, Anchorage, Alaska, contained transcripts between the pilot of N86922 and the Juneau Automated Flight Service Station (JNU AFSS). The transcripts show that the pilot of N86922 called JNU AFSS at 0648 and requested a weather briefing for a flight from Icy Bay to Yakutat. The Flight Service Station (FSS) specialist told the pilot that they were carrying some weather advisories for the north gulf coast and southeastern Alaska. He stated that the mountains would be obscured due to clouds and/or precipitation with the ceilings being occasionally obscured below 1,000 feet. Visibilities would be below 3 miles due to light rain showers, light snow showers, and fog. There was a forecast for occasional light to moderate turbulence below 6,000 feet. There would be occasional light to moderate icing in the clouds and precipitation above 1,000 feet.

The FSS Specialist gave that morning's weather observation which was 700 feet scattered, 1,200 feet scattered, ceiling measured 3,500 overcast, visibility 4 miles with light snow, temperature 30 degrees fahrenheit, dewpoint 29 degrees fahrenheit, wind from 100 degrees at 11 knots, and the altimeter setting was 29.39. The FSS Specialist gave the pilot the terminal forecast for Yakutat which called for 1,500 to 2,500 scattered to broken, 3,000 to 5,000 broken to overcast, multiple layers with visibility occasionally 3 to 5 miles with light snow showers and fog. Winds were forecast to be from the southeast at 20 knots with gusts to 30 knots.

As the pilot and FSS Specialist were talking, a new terminal forecast for Yakutat became available and it was given to the pilot. The new forecast called for 500 feet scattered, 3,000 feet broken, 4,500 feet overcast, light snow showers, winds from 090 degrees at 12 knots with gusts to 20 knots, occasionally 500 feet obscured, visibility 1/2 mile with snow showers and fog.

At 0652 the pilot filed a visual flight rules flight plan from Icy Bay to Yakutat. According to the NTSB form 6120.1/2, the pilot departed Icy Bay at 0815.

According to the transcripts, the pilot called JNU AFSS at 0915 as he was passing Yakutat Bay and he requested the current Yakutat weather. The FSS Specialist passed on the weather observation taken at 0910 which showed Yakutat weather as 400 feet scattered, ceiling measured at 1,500 overcast, visibility one and one-half mile with light snow and fog, temperature 32 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 31 degrees Fahrenheit, winds from 120 degrees at 10 knots, altimeter setting of 29.37 inches of mercury. The Specialist stated that the weather was below VFR and he asked the pilot about his intentions. The pilot requested a special VFR clearance into the Class E airspace at 0915. He received a special VFR clearance at 0916.

The FSS Specialist contacted the pilot of N86922 at 0929 and requested a progress report. The pilot stated it would take him another ten minutes to reach Yakutat. At 0930 the FSS Specialist stated that a Yakutat special weather observation was taken at 0927 and it showed that Yakutat weather was 400 feet scattered, ceiling measured at 1,500 feet broken, 2,700 feet overcast, visibility 5/8 mile with snow and fog, wind from 120 degrees at 13 knots, and the altimeter setting of 29.37 inches of mercury.

The pilot decided to hold outside of Class E airspace at 0932. At 0945 the pilot notified the JNU AFSS that he was going to land on the beach outside of Yakutat Bay. There was no further contact with the pilot or airplane until 1451 when the pilot called the JNU AFSS by telephone to close his flight plan and to let them know that he and his passenger were safe.

During an interview with the pilot on November 20, 1995, the pilot stated that the weather was visual meteorological conditions until reaching the east side of Yakutat Bay. The weather then began to deteriorate. The pilot stated that he had at least 1 mile of flight visibility throughout his entire flight.

The pilot stated that after holding outside of the Class E airspace, he elected to land on the beach. Prior to committing to landing, he decided to "drag" the beach to ensure a good landing surface. The beach was aligned northwest to southeast and a treeline was located upwind of the landing area. The pilot stated he dragged the beach in a southeasterly direction and made a right turn to fly over the water. The beach curved to the left and away from his flight path. As he made his right turn, he stated he could see the shoreline and the treeline. The main landing gear wheels touched the water and the airplane nosed over into the water. The airplane was not recovered.

According to the time sequence on the Air Traffic Transcripts, the last radio contact with the airplane was at 0945 while the pilot was attempting to land on the beach. The pilot indicated on the NTSB Form 6120.1/2 that the accident occurred at 0935.

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