On June 14, 1998, about 1630 Alaska daylight time, a Lake LA-4 amphibious airplane, N19AK, sustained substantial damage during takeoff from a river, about 10 miles northeast of Saint Mary's, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) personal flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The certificated commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated at the Saint Mary's Airport, about 1050.

In his written statement to the NTSB, the pilot reported that he was departing from a river after a day of fishing. He stated that just after takeoff, about 15 feet above the water, two ducks flew into the path of the departing airplane, distracting his attention. He said that the ducks were headed in the same direction, and traveling at about the same airspeed as the departing airplane. He reported that both ducks passed from left to right, about 6 feet from the airplane's windscreen. The pilot stated that after he was assured that the ducks would clear the airplane's propeller, he turned his attention back to the takeoff. He stated that the next thing he remembered was his "forward vision being filled by trees."

The airplane's left wing sponson collided with a stand of trees, pivoted the airplane 180 degrees, and the airplane settled into a larger stand of trees. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings and fuselage.

The pilot indicated that there were no preimpact mechanical difficulties with the airplane.

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