HISTORY OF FLIGHT On August 13, 1993, at approximately 2200 Alaska daylight time (ADT), hikers located the wreckage of a wheel equipped Aeronca Champion 7EC airplane, N8958R, registered to and operated by the private certificated pilot-in-command, at the 2000 foot level of the Chugach State Park, approximately 3 miles east of Chugiak, Alaska. The airplane departed the Bradley Skyranch Airport in North Pole, Alaska on October 9, 1992, at about 1315 Alaska Standard Time (AST), and had been missing until found by the hikers. The personal flight, operated under 14 CFR Part 91, was en route to Homer, Alaska when the accident occurred. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the time of the flights departure from North Pole; however, marginal conditions were forecasted by the National Weather Service and VFR (visual flight rule) flight was not recommended. No flight plan was filed. The pilot, the only occupant on board the airplane, was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by the impact with the terrain and a post crash fire. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot's sister informed the Safety Board during a telephone interview with a Safety Board investigator on October 29, 1992 that her brother had flown his plane up from Homer and had been visiting with her and her family for about 12 days. She said that he had flown his airplane up from Homer four or five times previously. She reported that he was in good health and that he had been trying to return to Homer for two or three days prior to the accident flight but was unable to because of poor en route weather conditions. She said that on the day in which the accident occurred, her brother was in a hurry to leave to try to beat the bad weather. She was aware that he had called and checked the weather twice before he finally left at about 1315. He told her that the weather was not too good for the flight back to Homer and that if the weather got too bad he would turn around and come back to North Pole, or stop and spend the night en route and continue on the next day. She believed that her brother always used automobile gasoline in his airplane and that when he left North Pole the plane's fuel tanks were full with what she thought was about 20 gallons of fuel. She reported that he also had 20 gallons of extra fuel housed in plastic containers inside the airplane. He mentioned to her that he had drained a little water from the plane's fuel tanks after he refueled it in North Pole. She was not aware of any problems with the airplane. She mentioned to investigating personnel that her brother usually followed the highway between Fairbanks and Homer. She believed that he had to stop en route to refuel the plane but did not know where he would do this.
An air search, conducted by Alaska State Police (AST) Helicopter, was initiated on October 12, 1992 at 1000 hours. The air search was concentrated in an area along the Parks Highway between mile 140 and 122. The search extended for approximately five miles along each side of the highway. No sign of the aircraft or its pilot was ever found. No transmissions were received from an emergency locator transmitter (ELT).
While the AST was concentrating its search efforts in the aforementioned area, the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) was coordinating an extensive air search along the entire likely flight path of the airplane. RCC utilized numerous fixed and rotary winged aircraft in its efforts. In addition, numerous private aircraft assisted in the search effort, coordinating their activity with RCC. No aircraft nor survivors were located and the search efforts were called off on October 29, 1992.
WITNESS INFORMATION There were no known witnesses to the accident.
FLIGHTCREW INFORMATION The pilot was the holder of private pilot certificate No. 545310129, with a rating for airplane single engine land. His second class medical was issued on September 1, 1992 without waivers or limitations. No pilot flight time records were recovered from the crash site, nor reportedly were any records found by the pilot's next of kin. On October 29, 1992, the pilot's sister told an NTSB investigator that she believed that her brother had his pilot log book with him in the airplane when he left North Pole on the accident flight. She also believed that the records for the airplane were on board the aircraft as well. The most recent information found substantiating the pilot's flight time was obtained from his application for a medical certificate in September 1992, on which he indicated that he had accrued a total of 630 flight hours, of which 250 were within the preceding 6 months.
The pilot's sister reported that several days prior to her brother leaving North Pole, he had taken a check ride in his airplane with a flight instructor named Jack Hunziker. The Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) contacted Mr. Hunziker.
Mr. Hunziker said that he gave Mr. Young a biennial flight review (BFR) on October 5, 1992, in an Aeronca Champion airplane having registration number N8958R. Mr. Hunziker reported that Mr. Young was a very good pilot and that he was not aware of any problems with the airplane.
AIRPLANE INFORMATION The airplane, an Aeronca Champion, which was owned by the pilot and registered in his name, was manufactured as a Model 7FC, and assigned serial number 7FC-389. According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) record Aircraft Alteration Form 337 dated May 9, 1973, the airplane was converted to a Model 7EC. This conversion included moving the nose landing gear to the tail location, and several other airframe changes. FAA records show that on September 27, 1991, the pilot purchased the airplane from Stewart S. Nutter, of 8370 Starkeyville Lane, Salcha, Alaska 99714.
The pilot's relatives reported that the plane's maintenance records were probably on board the aircraft at the time of the accident. The pilot's father provided the Safety Board with several pages of notes which the pilot reportedly had written. On one of the notes, dated November 5, 1991, the plane's hours were listed as 948.36. It is not known if this reading was from the plane's tachometer or hobbs meter, or if this reflected the true total hours on the aircraft at that time.
Following the accident, the Safety Board IIC contacted Mr. Karl Stoltzfus, owner of Stoltzfus Air Maintenance in Homer, Alaska. Mr. Stoltzfus said that on June 17, 1992, he performed an annual inspection on N8958R and that the inspection was recorded on work order No. 1241. He said that at the time of the inspection, the plane was equipped with a Continental C90-12F engine, having serial number 47227-9-12. The tachometer reading was 82.43. He said that the plane's airframe and engine logs showed a total of approximately 2500 hours and 1200 hours, respectively.
ON SCENE INVESTIGATION ACTIVITY The Safety Board IIC conducted the on scene investigation on August 14, 1994. On scene assistance was provided by a member of the Alaska State Police and an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector from the agency's Flight Standards District Office in Anchorage. The crash site was in the Chugach State Park in a small stream valley about 3 miles east of Chugiak, Alaska. The coordinates of the accident site were estimated to be 61.23.50 north and 149.26 west. The accident site was enveloped in heavy foliage and was adjacent to a mountain stream. The fuselage was in a nose down position at the base of three burned spruce trees. The fuselage data plate and identification numbers were consumed by fire. The engine data plate indicated Continental engine serial number 25681-6-12, model C85-12. The carburetor was sheared from its engine mount. Aluminized portions of the engine were melted away and all exposed metal was extensively corroded.
The two blade metal propeller was found still attached to the engine. One blade was bent rearward approximately 30 degrees, beginning at about halfway down its longitudinal axis. The leading edge of the blade showed mild to heavy abrasion. The first eight six inches of the remaining blade, from the tip down, was bent rearward approximately 70 degrees. Sections of this area were also burned and melted. The leading edge of the blade was lightly abraded.
An examination of the airplane revealed that nearly all of its non-metal structure had been consumed by fire. The plane's left horizontal stabilizer was detached from the tail structure and was missing from the main wreckage site. The head end of the bolt which attached the left stabilizer support rod to the stabilizer was found still in its fitting. The nut end of the bolt was not recovered. An 8X magnification of the fractured area by the NTSB IIC revealed no radiating cracks. The oxidation found on the fractured surface of the bolt was consistent with having been in the elements for an extended period of time.
In the Spring of 1994, a hiker found what is believed to have been the plane's left horizontal stabilizer. The stabilizer was found about 100 yards down stream from the main wreckage site. All of its fabric covering had been burned away and oxidation was present on the metal structure. The leading edge of the stabilizer was bent inward. The hiker also found the remains of the plane's rotating beacon about 25 yards down stream from the main wreckage site. A two foot section of steel tubing, and portions of the plane's exterior fabric and wood spar were also found down stream from the main wreckage.
POST ACCIDENT INTERNAL ENGINE EXAMINATION The engine was removed from the accident site and transported to Anchorage, Alaska for a more extensive examination. The examination was conducted by licensed airplane and powerplant mechanics affiliated with the University of Alaska Anchorage Aviation Maintenance Technology Department. All indications were that the engine was capable of developing power up to the time of the accident. All major mechanical components were found intact and in functioning order. Fire damage had melted the outside of the engine, including inner cylinder baffling, cylinder cooling fins, and accessories, particularly the accessory housing and magnetos. The magnetos were excessively corroded but appeared to have been operational prior to the accident. Internal inspection of the accessory housing revealed no condition that would have been consistent with preimpact failure.
METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION The pilot telephoned the Fairbanks FAA Flight Service Station (FSS) at 0823 and 1005 (AST), on October 9, 1992. On both occasions, he was advised that VFR was not recommended because IFR (instrument flight rule) conditions were forecast along his intended route of flight. (Note. The recorded briefings provided to the pilot by the FSS are attached to the investigation report.)
During the winter months, the area in which the accident occurred can receive from six to 10 feet of snow.
MEDICAL INFORMATION The remains of the deceased were insufficient for examination.
TEST AND RESEARCH The left horizontal stabilizer that was recovered downstream from the main wreckage site was sent to the Safety Board's Materials Laboratory Division in Washington, D.C. for examination. The examination revealed, in part, that the four reinforcement members on the inboard portion of the stabilizer were buckled and distorted. Compressions buckling was found on one side of the fractures in the stabilizer tubes. The orientation of this compression buckling was consistent with the outboard portion of the stabilizer moving in a forward direction relative to the inboard portion as the separations occurred. The complete findings of the examination are contained in Materials Laboratory Report No. 95-141, which is included as an attachment to the investigation file.
This investigation was initiated by Douglas Herlihy and completed by Timothy Borson.