ANC96FA161
ANC96FA161

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On September 20, 1996, at 1630 Alaska daylight time, a float equipped Piper PA-18 airplane, N241WH, registered to and operated by the pilot, crashed into a tributary of Little Minto Lake during an approach for landing. The personal flight, operating under 14 CFR Part 91, departed the Fairbanks Float Pond, Fairbanks, Alaska, and the destination was the location of the accident site at geographic coordinates 64 degrees, 53 minutes north, and 148 degrees, 50 minutes west. No flight plan was filed and visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The certificated private pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane received substantial damage.

According to information obtained by the Alaska State Troopers from witnesses, the pilot was going to land in the area to pick up fellow hunters. The witnesses saw the airplane fly low over the trees and make a bank to align with the landing area on the water. They heard the engine power increase, saw the nose of the airplane rise, watched the airplane bank 60 degrees to the right, and then watched the airplane crash nose low into the water.

WITNESSES

A witness, Mr. John M. Rayfield was positioned approximately 75 yards south of the accident site. He stated he saw an airplane fly over. The airplane circled and then began to descend flying in a southerly direction. The witness stated he could hear the engine running but at a low power setting. As the airplane neared the tree tops, the nose of the airplane rose to a nose up attitude and banked approximately 60 degrees to the right. Then the airplane fell nose first into the stream. He was able to reach the airplane in approximately 3 and 1/2 minutes.

Other witnesses heard the engine increase in power as the nose of the airplane was raised.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot's logbook was unavailable and the flight times were derived from the Airman's application for medical certificate retained by the Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, OK.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane logbooks were not available.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

There are no weather reporting facilities in the vicinity of the accident site. The accident site is separated from the Fairbanks area by a ridge line.

According to witnesses in the area, and a FAA Flight Standards District Inspector, the wind was blowing approximately 20 knots above the tree top level. Once below the tree tops, very little wind could be felt. The landing area into which the pilot was descending is surrounded by trees, which vary in height from 50 to 75 feet high. The FAA Inspector stated that when they were landing near the same area, as soon as their airplane descended below the tree tops, the wind no longer affected the airplane.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage site was visited by an FAA Inspector. The airplane had already been hauled out of the water and was on shore. The wreckage was examined after it was recovered to Fairbanks.

TEST AND RESEARCH

Examination of the airplane at Fairbanks by an NTSB investigator disclosed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical anomaly. Flight control continuity was established except where the cables had been cut during the airplane's recovery.

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