HISTORY OF THE FLIGHT Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
On September 29, 1998, at an estimated time of 1245 Alaska daylight time, a wheel equipped Cessna TU-206G airplane, N4820U, collided with steep terrain about 9.2 miles southeast of Ketchikan, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country personal flight when the accident occurred. The airplane, operated by the pilot, was destroyed by impact and postimpact fire. The certificated private pilot, the sole occupant, received fatal injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area of the accident. A VFR flight plan was filed. The flight originated at the Ketchikan International Airport, at 1226 en route to Bellingham, Washington.
A personal friend of the pilot reported that the pilot was traveling to Torrance, California, after closing a lodge near Copper Center, Alaska, for the winter. The pilot departed Anchorage, Alaska, on September 28, 1998, and stopped in Ketchikan.
On September 29, 1998, at 0957:01, the pilot telephoned the Ketchikan Flight Service Station (FSS), to get a weather briefing for his flight to Bellingham, and asked, "...this stuff going to lift or anything today?" The flight service station specialist commented, "...probably not." The specialist inquired if the pilot was planning a VFR or IFR flight. The pilot replied, "oh I can go IFR,...but I'm not real excited about it."
The specialist then provided an abbreviated weather briefing for the coastal region of southeast Alaska and Canada. The weather information included frontal weather moving onto the north gulf coast and southeast panhandle (of Alaska), by 1600, and then moving rapidly into Canada. A secondary front was developing in the eastern gulf coast. The FSS specialist commented that, "...things are coming down here a little bit, uh, I'd say we've got five to six miles visibility at the moment, and uh, starting to pick up a layer about eight to nine hundred scattered, and 1,900 overcast."
About 1115, the pilot obtained a weather briefing in person from a Ketchikan FSS specialist. The specialist stated she provided a complete weather briefing, and the pilot filed a VFR flight plan. The pilot indicated on his flight plan that his route of flight was Victor Airway V317, to V440, to Bellingham. He also indicated his estimated time en route was 4.5 hours, with seven hours of fuel on board.
At 1221:24, the pilot reported he was taxiing for takeoff runway 11 at Ketchikan. He stated, "...I'll be heading over to Annette Island and then Annette VOR, rather then I'll be taking (V)317 southeast." The FSS specialist reminded the pilot the Annette VOR was out of service, and the pilot acknowledged the information.
At 1224:50, the FSS specialist provided an airport advisory to the pilot and stated, "Cessna 20U, Ketchikan Radio roger, no known traffic, wind on the runway, 130 at 13, gust 18." The pilot acknowledged the advisory and stated, "looks like that wind is starting to pick up, isn't it." The FSS specialist commented, "I think you're getting out of here just the right time probably." The pilot answered, "yeah, hope so."
The pilot departed Ketchikan at 1226, and the FSS specialist indicated he would activate the pilot's flight plan.
At 1228:45, a Ketchikan FSS specialist asked the pilot over the radio if he would try to make radio contact with a Beechcraft Bonanza, N350JL, in the area of Annette Island on radio frequency 122.4 MHz. The request was to have the accident pilot advise N350JL that Ketchikan Radio could hear the airplane (N350JL) broadcasting, and to call again. The accident pilot agreed, and at 1229:46, he advised Ketchikan FSS "alrighty, I'll give him a call here in just second, looks like I'm coming up on Annette right now."
Between 1230:10 and 1239:48, the accident airplane pilot was heard several times attempting to make radio contact with N350JL. No further radio contact from the accident airplane was recorded after 1240.
The pilot did not arrive at his destination. An alert notice (ALNOT), was issued by the FAA on September 30, 1998, at 0131.
A search was initiated by Canadian Coast Guard personnel in the late evening hours of September 29, 1998, along the pilot's intended route of flight. On September 30, 1998, U.S. Coast Guard search aircraft began search operations in the area of departure. Low ceilings along the pilot's intended route of flight limited airborne search efforts. No emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal was received from the airplane.
On October 3, 1998, about 1730, the airplane wreckage was located about 900 feet msl on the northern tip of Annette Island, in a heavily wooded area.
The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at latitude 55 degrees, 14.43 minutes north, and longitude 131 degrees, 32.04 minutes west.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and sea, and multiengine land ratings. The pilot did not hold an instrument rating, nor a mechanic certificate. The most recent second-class medical certificate was issued to the pilot on November 17, 1994. The medical certificate expired on November 30, 1996. It contained the limitation that the pilot shall have available glasses for near vision. A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records on file in the Airman and Medical Records Center located in Oklahoma City, did not reveal any later application for a medical certificate.
No personal flight records were located for the pilot. A review of FAA airman records indicated the pilot first obtained a private pilot certificate on May 2, 1972. The aeronautical experience listed on page 3 of this report was obtained from the pilot's last medical application of November 17, 1994. On the application, the pilot indicated that his total aeronautical experience consisted of 3,500 hours.
A personal friend of the pilot said the pilot had military flight experience, with about 19,000 hours of flight time. He said that in the past, he had flown with the pilot during instrument meteorological conditions. The pilot owned a lodge in Tonsina, Alaska. He operated the lodge during the summer months, and returned to an aviation maintenance business in Torrance, California, in the winter months.
The pilot purchased the airplane in 1983. He did not register the airplane with the FAA, and the registration records continued to reflect the previous owner. The airplane's maintenance records were not located. A business partner recalled performing an annual inspection on the airplane in 1995. No records of the inspection were located. The total time on the engine and airframe is not known.
Fueling records at Aero Services Inc., Ketchikan, established that the aircraft was last fueled on the accident date with the addition of 72.7 gallons of 100LL octane aviation fuel.
A business partner of the pilot stated he last flew in the accident airplane on June 17, 1998. The airplane's vacuum pump was inoperative at that time. A personal friend of the pilot reported the pilot purchased a Parker Hannifin dry air vacuum pump on June 22, 1998, and it was installed by the pilot.
The closest official weather observation station is Ketchikan, which is located 9.2 nautical miles northwest of the accident site. On September 29, 1998, at 1153, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting in part: Wind, 180 degrees (true) at 7 knots, varying from 130 to 220 degrees; visibility, 3 statute miles in moderate rain and mist; clouds, 600 feet scattered, 1,200 feet broken, 1,600 feet overcast; temperature, 48 degrees F; dew point, 48 degrees F; altimeter, 30.05 inHg; remarks, ceiling ragged.
A weather synopsis, issued on September 29, 1998, at 0545, and valid until 0000, stated: "A 992 millibar low, 240 miles south of Middleton Island, and the 1005 millibar low, 450 miles southwest of Kodiak, will merge into a 988 millibar low 150 miles southeast of Middleton Island by 0000. An associated occluded front will move northeast over the gulf of Alaska, moving onshore the north gulf coast and southeast panhandle by 1600; then move rapidly into Canada. A secondary front will develop over the eastern gulf of Alaska Tuesday evening, and be approaching the north gulf coast and southeast Alaska by 0000."
An area forecast for the southern and southeast portion of Alaska, issued on September 29, 1998, at 0545, and valid until 1800, was reporting, in part: "Clouds and weather - AIRMET for IFR and mountain obscuration, valid until 1200 - From 1000, occasional ceilings below 1,000 feet, visibility below 3 statute miles in rain and mist. All period, mountains obscured in clouds and precipitation, intensifying. Clouds, 2,500 feet scattered, 4,500 feet broken, 7,000 feet overcast, tops, 12,000 feet, layers above, tops 25,000 feet. Occasional clouds at 800 feet scattered, 2,000 feet broken, 4,000 feet overcast, visibility 4 statute miles in light rain and mist. Isolated ceilings below 1,000 feet, visibility below 3 statute miles in mist. Surface wind from the southeast with gusts to 20 knots. From 1000, clouds, 800 feet scattered, 1,200 feet broken, 2,500 feet overcast, merging layers, tops at 25,000 feet, visibility 4 statute miles in light rain and mist. Surface winds from the southeast with gusts from 25 to 30 knots. Outlook, valid from September 29, 1998, at 1800 to September 30, 1998, at 1800, marginal VFR ceilings in rain, and wind. Turbulence - AIRMET for turbulence and low level wind shear - From 1000, occasional moderate turbulence below 8,000 feet. Occasional low level wind shear and isolated severe turbulence within 2,000 feet above ground level, intensifying. Until 1000, isolated moderate turbulence below 6,000 feet. Icing and freezing level - AIRMET for icing - From 1000, light occasional moderate rime icing 6,000 to 18,000 feet. Freezing level, 6,000 feet, rising to 8,000 feet by 1600, no change. Until 1000, occasional light rime icing 6,000 to 14,000 feet."
The terminal forecast for the Ketchikan area, issue on September 29, 1998, at 0927, and valid from 1000 until September 30, 1998, at 1000, was reporting, in part: "Wind, 170 degrees at 8 knots; visibility greater than 6 statute miles in light rain; clouds, 2,500 feet overcast. Temporary conditions between 1000 and 1200; visibility 5 statute miles in light rain and mist; clouds, 1,500 feet overcast. From 1200; wind, 160 degrees at 15 knots, gusts to 25 knots; visibility, greater than 6 statute miles in light rain; clouds, 2,200 feet overcast. Temporary conditions between 1400 and 0400 on September 30, 1998; visibility 4 statute miles in rain and mist; clouds, 1,200 feet overcast. From 0400 on September 30, 1998, to 1600; wind, 120 degrees at 18 knots, gusts to 30 knots; visibility, 5 statute miles in light rain and mist; clouds, 2,500 feet overcast. Temporary conditions between 0400 and 1000; visibility 2 statute miles in rain and mist; clouds, 1,200 overcast."
AIDS TO NAVIGATION
According to FAA records, the Annette VOR was out of service.
The Ketchikan FSS has communication capabilities on numerous aviation radio frequencies. The common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) for Ketchikan is 123.6 MHz.
An Automated Terminal Information System (ATIS) broadcast is provided on a frequency of 119.9 MHz. ATIS information "GOLF", broadcast at 1157:44, stated the following: "Ketchikan Airport information Golf. Southeast routes in use. Time, 1957 Zulu. Wind, 170 at 12 (knots); visibility, 3 (statute miles), moderate rain, mist; (clouds), 600 scattered, ceiling 1,200 broken, 1,600 overcast; temperature, 9 (Celsius); dew point 9 (Celsius); altimeter, 30.05 (inHg). Ceiling ragged. Harbor wind, 120 at 13 (knots). Runway 11 in use. Southeast routes in use. Notice to airmen, the Annette VOR is out of service. AIRMETs are in effect for IFR conditions, mountain obscuration, turbulence, low level wind shear, and icing. Contact Ketchikan Radio, 123.6 (MHz) for traffic advisories. On initial contact, advise you have GOLF."
A transcript of telephone, and air to ground communications between the airplane and the Ketchikan FSS is included in this report.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) examined the airplane wreckage at the accident site on October 4, 1998. High winds, rain, and low ceilings limited the available time at the scene. A path of wreckage debris, from an area of broken trees, to the wreckage point of rest, was on a magnetic heading of 220 degrees. (All heading/bearings noted in this report are oriented toward magnetic north.)
The airplane collided with trees, and steep upsloping wooded terrain, about 900 feet msl. Several trees were broken and toppled at the wreckage site. With the exception of separated portions of the airframe, a postcrash fire incinerated the airplane.
The first piece of airplane wreckage discovered along the debris path, was about four feet of the outboard end of the right wing. It was not fire damaged. The right aileron, damaged and torn along the inboard end, was still attached to the wing segment. Upslope from the wing segment, was the right wing lift strut. It was separated from the wing and fuselage attach points, and was not fire damaged.
The main portion of the airplane was located upslope from the lift strut. Several trees and limbs were knocked down, and burned in the main wreckage area.
The empennage was intact, but fire damaged, and was torn from the main fuselage, just forward of the vertical stabilizer attach point. The empennage was located standing vertically, wedged into a broken portion of a tree. The elevator remained attached to the stabilizers. The outboard end of the right stabilizer was bent upward. The inboard leading edge of the left stabilizer was curled upward and aft. The lower half of the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer was crushed aft.
The wings and fuselage were destroyed by fire. Flight control system cable continuity was established to the point of impact related damage.
The engine sustained fire and impact damage. The propeller blades had leading and trailing edge gouging, and chordwise scratching.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
A postmortem examination of the pilot was conducted under the authority of the Alaska State Medical Examiner, 5700 E. Tudor, Anchorage, Alaska, on October 5, 1998.
A postaccident fire consumed most of the airplane.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
Search personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Canadian Coast Guard performed aerial, and surface search operations along the pilot's proposed route of flight. Low ceilings and fog prevented aerial search operations in the upper, interior portions of Annette Island until the day the airplane was located.
On November 11, 1998, at 1300, after the on-scene investigation of the airplane wreckage, a friend of the pilot reported that he received a priority airworthiness directive (AD) in the mail from the FAA. Based on a Parker Hannifin service letter, dated October 20, 1998, the FAA issued a priority letter AD number 98-23-01 on October 29, 1998. The AD required inspection and replacement of the pump's flexible coupling within 2 calendar days, or prior to further flight, after receipt of the priority letter AD.
Due to impact damage, and postimpact fire at the accident scene, a detailed examination of the airplane's engine was not possible.
The Safety Board did not take custody of the wreckage. No parts or components were retained by the Safety Board.