On September 15, 1998, about 1600 Alaska daylight time, a float equipped Cessna 185F airplane, N93904, sustained substantial damage while taking off from a remote area lake, about 42 miles northwest of Fairbanks, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country business flight under Title 14 CFR Part 91 when the accident occurred. The airplane was registered to Thomas Hillis, Fairbanks, and operated by the pilot in support of the airplane owner's hunting/guide business. The certificated private pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), on September 18, 1998, at 1115, the pilot reported he works as a guide for Wolf Creek Outfitters, Fairbanks. The pilot departed the Brooks Mountains near Bettles, Alaska, about 1100 for a flight to Fairbanks to pick up supplies. During the flight, weather conditions, consisting of low ceilings and low visibility, forced the pilot to deviate from his planned route. The pilot was flying over a public use cabin, located about 10 miles east of Livengood, Alaska, along the Colorado Creek. He noticed a person on the ground waving. The pilot landed on an adjacent small lake to wait for improving weather conditions, and to determine if the person at the cabin was in need of assistance.

The pilot waited until 1600, and began a takeoff from the lake without the person at the cabin. The pilot estimated the lake was about 1/4 mile long. As the airplane was about to lift off, the left wing collided with several trees located along the bank of the lake. The airplane then collided with the shore, and received damage to the engine, propeller, left wing, the right wing lift strut, and the float assemblies.

The pilot and the cabin occupant were both rescued on September 16, 1998.

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