On October 3, 1997, about 1500 Alaska daylight time, a float equipped Piper PA-22-160 airplane, N8955D, crashed in a remote lake, about 12 miles east of Sterling, Alaska. The airplane was not recovered. The pilot is presumed to have received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

The Soldotna, Alaska, office of the Alaska State Troopers, reported the pilot maintained a residence on Caribou Island, located in Skilak Lake.

Neighbors of the pilot reported that the pilot was repairing a hole in the accident airplane's floats. The pilot had been observed by the neighbors wearing a pair of chest waders. The neighbors heard an airplane engine start up about 1500 to 1530. The engine sound stopped abruptly. The airplane was not observed. About 1720, an airplane over-flying the lake, observed the accident airplane partially submerged. It was floating upside down, about 1/2 mile from the pilot's residence.

Helicopter search and rescue personnel from Anchorage, Alaska, and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Officer from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Kenai, Alaska, responded to the scene. Several neighbors already at the scene in a boat, attached a rope to the partially submerged airplane, and attempted to tow the airplane toward shore. The neighbors noted a pair of chest waders attached to the tail section of the airplane. Rescue divers from the helicopter were unable to determine if the airplane was occupied before it sank in 139 feet of water. The rope attached to the airplane was cut when the airplane began to sink, endangering the tow boat. The pilot is missing and presumed to be fatally injured.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at latitude 60 degrees, 25.28 minutes north and longitude 150 degrees, 24.62 minutes west.


The pilot was issued a private pilot certificate with a single-engine rating on November 19, 1977. The pilot's certificate was revoked on March 7, 1984. The pilot's most recent third class medical certificate was issued on May 13, 1982.

No personal flight records were located for the pilot and the aeronautical experience listed on page 3 of this report was obtained from a review of the airmen Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records on file in the Airman and Medical Records Center located in Oklahoma City. On the pilot's application for medical certificate, dated May 13, 1982, the pilot indicated that his total aeronautical experience consisted of about 1,600 hours, of which 100 hours were accrued in the previous 6 months.


The Alaska State Troopers reported the pilot purchased the airplane about 1 year prior to the accident.

No aircraft records were located.


The closest official weather observation station is Soldotna, Alaska, which is located 19 nautical miles west of the accident site. At 1455, an automated Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting in part: Wind, 230 degrees (true) at 4 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; clouds, 3,700 feet scattered; temperature, 48 degrees F; dew point, 30 degrees F; altimeter, 29.67 inHg.


The pilot was not located.


Search and rescue personnel responded by helicopter to the slowly sinking airplane. A rescue swimmer entered the water, but rough, murky water conditions prevented the swimmer from determining if the airplane was occupied prior to it sinking. A search of the area on October 4, 1998, did not locate any evidence of the pilot or wreckage debris.


The airplane wreckage has not been recovered.

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