On February 23, 1997, about 1400 Alaska standard time, a float equipped Cessna 185F, N4471R, collided with the water during landing about 15 miles southwest of Ketchikan, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) local area personal flight when the accident occurred. The airplane, registered to and operated by the pilot, sustained substantial damage. The certificated private pilot, and the sole passenger, were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. A VFR flight plan was filed. The flight originated at the Ketchikan Harbor Seaplane Base, at 1330.

On May 16, 1997, at 1120, the pilot reported in a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), that she was landing near Phocena Bay, located on the south end of Gravina Island. Small ocean swells were present in the area of intended landing. During the landing approach, the pilot indicated the descent rate was excessive and she added full power to begin a go-around. The airplane continued to descend and the floats firmly contacted the water. The airplane then lifted off the water and the pilot noticed the upper right door hinge was broken. The flight continued to the Peninsula Point Pullout Seaplane Base, Ketchikan, where a normal landing was performed.

The airplane was not flown or inspected until an annual inspection on May 4, 1997. The inspection facility noticed wrinkling and distortion of the lower fuselage, aft of the firewall and under the doors of the airplane. All of the airplane's door hinges were broken. Additional wrinkling was observed above the baggage door, under the aft window. The inspection facility confirmed the damage to the airplane on May 23, 1997, and reported the airplane was unairworthy.

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