ANC00LA041
ANC00LA041

On April 12, 2000, about 1545 Alaska daylight time, a wheel equipped Piper PA-28 airplane, N6119W, sustained substantial damage after colliding with a frozen, snow-covered lake about 57 miles northwest of Aleknagik, Alaska, about latitude 60 degrees, 13 minutes north, and longitude 159 degrees, 02 minutes west. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country ferry flight when the accident occurred. The airplane was owned and being flown by the second pilot who occupied the left seat. For the purposes of the flight, the first pilot, occupying the right seat, was the pilot-in-command. The first pilot, a commercial certificated pilot and a flight instructor, and the second pilot, holder of a private pilot certificate, received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area of the accident. A VFR flight plan was filed. The flight originated at the Naknek Airport, Naknek, Alaska, about 1355.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), on April 13, 2000, at 1125, the first pilot reported the airplane engine was just overhauled, but the airplane did not have a current annual inspection. A ferry permit was obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to move the airplane from Naknek to Bethel, Alaska, for an annual inspection. The second pilot's medical certificate was expired. The first pilot said he was the pilot-in-command, but the second pilot was at the flight controls at the time of the crash.

After departure from Naknek, the flight reported over Aleknagik at 1427 via radio to FAA flight service station (FSS) personnel. After reporting over Aleknagik, the flight proceeded toward the Kuskokwim Mountains. The first pilot said overcast sky conditions varied between 1,400 to 1,600 feet above the ground, and he estimated the visibility below the overcast as 20 miles. As the flight approached the mountains, the tops of the ridges were obscured by clouds. The first pilot said they turned northward, but found no access across the mountains. He turned around and began to proceed toward Dillingham, Alaska. While in cruise flight at 500 feet above the ground, the first pilot said that in the area of Chikuminuk Lake, the horizon became indistinguishable from the snow-covered mountains, and the snow-covered ground. The first pilot said that neither he or the second pilot realized the airplane was slowly descending until it collided with the surface of the lake.

The first pilot said the left main landing gear was sheared off, the left wing spar fractured, and the outboard end of the right wing was bent.

The flight did not arrive at the intended destination of Bethel, and was reported overdue. On April 13, 2000, about 0300, the pilot contacted an airplane over-flying the area of the accident and reported his location as Chikuminuk Lake. Search personnel picked up both occupants and transported them to Bethel.

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