On March 20, 1993, at 1123 Alaska standard time, a wheel equipped Piper PA 22 airplane, N72999, encountered whiteout snow conditions, then nosed over after making a controlled crash landing on a glacier approximately 20 miles southwest of Drift River, Alaska. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The personal flight, operating under 14 CFR Part 91, departed Palmer, Alaska at 0938, and was destined for King Salmon, Alaska. Instrument meteorological conditions existed, and a VFR flight plan was filed.

Following the accident the pilot stated the following in part: "I was planning to fly through Lake Clark Pass en route to King Salmon, but missed my turn and flew up into the wrong valley. The ceiling and visibility kept getting lower so I decided to turn back. After doing a 180 degree turn the ceiling to my front was even lower, and the visibility was much lower because of the snow. So I decided to land on the glacier. Then I encountered whiteout snow conditions and lost all depth perception. I could still see about 3 miles up into the valley over the glacier. I touched down in snow about 2 feet deep, and the airplane nosed over onto it's back. I got a weather briefing by telephone about 45 minutes before taking off, from the automated flight service station in Kenai, Alaska. Marginal VFR conditions and turbulence was forecast. This was the first time I had tried to fly through the mountains this way. I guess I just used poor judgement."


According to FAA records, at 0817 the pilot of N72999 telephoned the FAA Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) in Kenai, Alaska, and obtained a weather briefing, then filed a VFR flight plan to King Salmon. During the briefing the pilot was told that the forecast (valid until 1800) called for Lake Clark Pass (elevation 1,000 feet above mean sea level) conditions to be marginal VFR to IFR. Ceilings in the Palmer, Anchorage and Kenai area were forecast to be below 1,000 feet and the visibility below 3 miles. Lower ceilings and visibility was forecast along and in the mountains.

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