On October 25, 1998, about 2000 Alaska standard time, a wheel equipped Cessna 207A airplane, N9400M, sustained substantial damage during an in-flight collision with terrain, about 7.6 miles east of Noorvik, Alaska. The airplane was being operated on a visual flight rules (VFR) scheduled passenger flight under Title 14 CFR Part 135, when the accident occurred. The airplane was operated by Hageland Aviation Services, Inc., Anchorage, Alaska, as Flight 915-1. The certificated commercial pilot, and two passengers, were not injured. Two passengers received minor injuries. Dark night, and instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area of the accident. VFR company flight following procedures were in effect. The flight originated at the Bob Baker Memorial Airport, Kiana, Alaska, at 1955, with an intended destination of Selawik, Alaska. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The chief pilot for the operator reported the pilot departed for Selawik, which is 26 miles southeast of Kiana. An area of mountains are located between the two airports. The pilot deviated toward Noorvik (southwest of Kiana), and then turned southeast toward Selawik.
On October 26, 1998, the chief pilot provided the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Standards District Office in Fairbanks, Alaska, with information about the accident. The chief pilot indicated that during a conversation with the pilot, the pilot said there was nothing mechanically wrong with the airplane, and he flew into the side of a mountain.
In the NTSB Pilot/Operator report (NTSB form 6120.1/2) filed by the operator, the pilot included a statement. The pilot reported his deviation was planned to maintain a minimum of 1,000 feet above the ground, and below icing conditions. In the area of Noorvik, the pilot stated he encountered a light snow shower. He further stated, "Not having any outside visual references to navigate by (since Selawik beacon was too distant yet to see through the snow) I depended upon my directional gyro to keep me on course." The pilot also reported that he obtained weather information from his home computer on the morning of the accident flight, throughout the day from pilot reports, and from his personal observation of the weather conditions.
In the NTSB pilot/operator report, the pilot indicated a mechanical malfunction/failure with the airplane's directional gyro. He stated the gyro was changing direction, and had been replaced less than 250 hours before the accident. The Director of Operations for the company indicated he was not aware of any mechanical malfunctions with the airplane.
The pilot said that during the accident flight, his directional gyro rotated to the left, placing his route of flight eastward. When he checked his position by cross referencing the airplane compass, and global positioning system (GPS) receiver, the airplane was close to the lee side of Hotham Peak, elevation 1,644 feet. The pilot said he encountered a down draft coming off the mountain. He increased the engine power, but the airplane came to an abrupt halt when it collided with rising, snow-covered ground, about 900 feet msl.
The airplane was equipped with a radar altimeter. The pilot did not report his use, or non-use of the radar altimeter.
Several passengers were interviewed by an Alaska State Trooper, Village Public Safety Officer (VPSO) in Noorvik. The passengers indicated the flight seemed normal until the airplane contacted the ground. One passenger said he was seated on the left side of the airplane, in the middle seat. The passenger said the trip was a "...normal flight, just couldn't see anything."
The closest official weather observation station is Kotzebue, Alaska, which is located 45 nautical miles west of the accident site. On October 25, 1998, at 2000, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting in part: Wind, 092 degrees at 18 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; clouds and sky condition, 1,200 feet broken, 1,800 feet broken, 9,500 feet overcast; temperature, 30 degrees F; dew point, 28 degrees F; altimeter, 29.12 inHg.
An area forecast, with a synopsis that was valid until October 26, 1998, at 1200, was reporting, in part: "A 980 millibar low near Kotzebue will move to Cape Lisburne LRRS, Alaska, by 1200. A 994 millibar associated cold front along the Brooks range will dissipate along the arctic coast after 0300. A high pressure ridge from Fort Yukon, Alaska, to McKinley Park, Alaska, to Kodiak, Alaska, will lie between Fort Yukon, and Eagle, Alaska, and southeast by 1200. For the northern Seward Peninsula and lower Kobuk Valley, valid until October 26, 1998, at 0600, clouds and weather; AIRMET for mountain obscuration - mountains occasionally obscured in clouds and precipitation, no change. Ice and freezing lever - light isolated moderate rime icing in clouds from the surface to 12,000 feet. Freezing level is at the surface. Scattered clouds at 2,500 feet, 8,000 feet overcast, tops at 12,000 feet, layers above to 25,000 feet. Occasionally, 2,500 feet overcast, visibility, 4 statute miles in light snow showers. Northwest of Kotzebue, isolated ceilings below 1,000 feet, visibility below 3 statute miles in light snow and mist. Outlook, valid October 26, 1998, from 0600 to 0000, marginal VFR ceilings in snow and mist."
A terminal forecast for Kotzebue, issued on October 25, 1998, at 1440, and valid from 1500 to October 26, 1998, at 1500, was reporting, in part: "Wind, 110 degrees at 17 knots; visibility, greater that 6 statute miles; clouds, 1,100 feet scattered, 3,500 feet broken, 8,000 feet overcast. Temporary conditions from 1500 to October 26, 1998, at 0500, visibility 2 statute miles in light snow showers; clouds, 1,000 feet broken, 2,500 feet overcast. On October 26, 1998, from 0500; wind, 210 degrees at 10 knots, visibility greater than 6 statute miles; clouds, 2,000 feet scattered, 6,000 feet overcast. Probability 30 percent between 0500 and 1500, visibility 3 statute miles in light snow showers; clouds, 1,000 feet broken."