ANC93LA048
ANC93LA048

On March 25, 1993, at approximately 1140 Alaska standard time, a Piper PA-31 airplane, N9102Y, operated by Missionary Aviation Repair Center, d.b.a. MARC Aviation of Soldotna, Alaska, collided with terrain during a visual approach to Mekoryuk, Nunivak Island, Alaska. The flight departed Hooper Bay, Alaska, at 1105 and was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 for business purposes on a VFR flight plan. Instrument meteorological conditions existed at the Mekoryuk airport at the time. The airline transport certificated pilot and a passenger received minor injuries and two passengers were unhurt. The airplane was substantially damaged.

The accident airplane is owned and operated by the MARC organization reportedly to provide transportation in Alaska to religious groups and missions. The aircraft routinely operate to and from remote villages and airports. The organization does not hold, nor is it required to hold, an air taxi certificate under 14 CFR Part 135. As such, neither a principal operations inspector, nor a principal maintenance inspector, is assigned for surveillance and the organization is not required to submit or maintain a training or operations manual.

The pilot reported his departure from Hooper Bay to Bethel F1ight service Station and was given the Mekoryuk AWOS weather observation as marginal visual flight rules and "visual flight rules not recommended." The pilot reportedly radioed that he was "going to give it a look." Nunivak Island residents at the town of Mekoryuk reported that at approximately 11:30, they heard but could not see, an aircraft in the clouds north of the town. In an interview with the NTSB the pilot stated that he was conducting a visual approach with an non-directional beacon and distance measuring equipment (NDB/DME) approach "back up" to runway 5. He stated that upon arriving north of the island, that he could see the ground along the island's north coast before he started the visual approach, but that he got "tripped up in a white out" and hit the hills at 500 foot altitude.

Local reindeer herders were alerted to the likelihood of an airplane crash and found two passengers walking near the Mekoryuk airport The rescuers reported that they found the wreckage on the slope of a 406 foot hill, approximately 4 and 1/2 miles west of the airport.

The terrain on Nunivak Island is rolling tundra which was snow covered at the time of the accident. The automated weather observation station (AWOS) provided weather observations that indicated variable weather conditions during the accident period including obscurations, scattered and broken clouds, with visibility varying between one mile and 10 miles during a two hour period before and after the accident.

The pilot told investigators that the airplane's flight instruments seemed to be operating normal. The records of the airplane's barometric altimeter indicated that the altimeter and pitot static system had been tested as required by 14 CFR Part 91.411, 10 days before the accident and was certified as accurate. The airplane was equipped for instrument flight. There was no copilot on the flight, nor was there one required. In a statement to the NTSB, the pilot said that he had looked at the approach plate (attached) "a few minutes before arriving in the vicinity" and should have been at 1100 feet (msl) vice 500 feet when the aircraft collided with the terrain, that was "my mistake."

The airline transport pilot provided information to the NTSB that he had 33,362 hours of total pilot time, 12,500 hours of night time and 3,385 hours of instrument pilot time. During the previous 90, 30 day and 24 hour time period, respectively, he had 56, 13 and approximately 11 hours of flight time, respectively. His airline transport pilot ratings included the DC-3, Convair 240/340, DC-6, DC-7, Boeing 707 and Boeing 747.

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