On June 21, 1998, about 1530 Alaska daylight time, a wheel/ski equipped Cessna 185F airplane, N80596, sustained substantial damage while landing at a remote airstrip, about 63 miles east of Chitina, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country personal flight under Title 14 CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The airplane was registered to Ultima Thule Outfitters Inc., Chitina. The certificated commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight originated at the Chitina Airport, about 1450.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), on June 21, 1998, at 1735, the pilot reported he was transporting personal camping equipment to the Ultima Thule Lodge. The lodge is located along the Chitina River in the Wrangle-St. Elias National Preserve, and has its own airstrip. The airstrip is oriented east/west. It is 1,500 feet long, and 20 feet wide. The airstrip is comprised of part gravel bar, and part sand bar. The surface is uneven and soft.

The pilot stated he touched down on the airstrip while landing toward the west. During the landing roll, the airplane encountered an uneven area of the gravel bar, and bounced into an area of the sand bar. The left wheel encountered an area of soft sand and rapidly decelerated. The tip of the left main wheel ski assembly dug into the ground, and the airplane then nosed over. The airplane received damage to the main landing gear, fuselage, and wings.

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