ANC01LA038
ANC01LA038

On February 24, 2001, about 1750 Alaska standard time, a wheel equipped Forney F-1A airplane, N3032G, sustained substantial damage during landing on a snow-covered runway at Whittier, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country personal flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The airplane was operated by the pilot. The commercial certificated pilot, and the sole passenger, were not injured. The airplane departed Merrill Field, Anchorage, Alaska, about 1720. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a VFR flight plan was filed.

On February 25, 2001, at 1158, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), was notified that the accident airplane was found about 0800, unoccupied, on runway 21 at Whittier by a police officer with the Whittier Police Department. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regional operations center reported the pilot air-filed a VFR flight plan on February 24, 2001, at 1742, with the FAA's Kenai Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS). A review of the recorded radio transmissions between the AFSS and the accident airplane revealed that at the time the VFR flight plan was filed, the pilot reported clear weather conditions in the Girdwood, Alaska, area. The pilot indicated the route of flight was from Merrill Field, Anchorage, Alaska, to Cordova, Alaska, and return to Merrill Field. At 1836, the flight plan was closed via telephone with the Kenai AFSS by an unknown person. An earlier radio transmission from the accident airplane to the Kenai AFSS, closing the flight plan, was not understood or answered by the AFSS controller.

After finding the airplane on February 25th, the Whittier police officer located persons at a local hotel who were pointed out by other patrons as being the pilot and passenger of the accident airplane. When the pilot was asked about the circumstances of the accident, the pilot refused all information, including his identity, and that of the passenger. The pilot referred all questions to his attorney. Whittier Police Department personnel reported that after contacting the pilot's attorney, no additional information was provided.

The NTSB IIC received a fax on February 26th, from one of the airplane's two co-owners. The fax provided the pilot's last name, indicated the destination of the flight was Whittier, the time of occurrence was 1750 (February 24th), and indicated that substantial damage to the airplane had not been determined. On March 1, 2001, the IIC examined the airplane at Whittier. The airplane was about mid-field, facing perpendicular to the centerline. The airplane had aft buckling of the left wing at the inboard end, buckling of the left aileron at the inboard end, a fractured nose wheel strut assembly, and buckling of the airplane firewall. The IIC notified the pilot and co-owner of the airplane on March 1, 2001, via phone message, that the airplane was substantially damaged.

Whittier Police personnel reported that prior to the accident, the runway had accumulated between 4 and 5 feet of snow, and it had not been plowed.

According to the Airport Facility Directory/Alaska Supplement, the Whittier airport has a single runway on a 030/210 degree orientation. Runway 21 is 1,480 feet long, and 58 feet wide. The airport remarks section of the Alaska supplement includes the following: "Unattended. CAUTION: Bird activity in airport area. CAUTION: Runway condition not monitored, recommend visual inspection prior to landing. No winter maintenance. Closed from first snowfall until after breakup... Approach to runway 21 over water. For takeoff, use runway 03 only; for landings, use runway 21 only. Runway 03-21, rocks to 4 inches in and on runway. Scattered rebar at runway 21 threshold."

On February 24, 2001, at 1745, an automated weather observation system (AWOS) at Whittier was reporting, in part: Wind, 190 degrees at 5 knots; visibility, 20 statute miles; clouds and sky condition, 5,000 feet broken; temperature, 27 degrees F; dew point, 22 degrees F; altimeter, 29.71 inHg.

As part of the accident investigation, the NTSB IIC sent a Pilot/Operator Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2) to the pilot's last address of record. It was returned unclaimed. An FAA Airworthiness Inspector with the Anchorage Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) received a fax copy of an E-Mail letter on March 29, 2001, originally addressed to the co-owner of the airplane. The letter was reported to be from the pilot, but was unsigned. Additional investigation by the NTSB IIC, and the FAA revealed the pilot utilizes numerous aliases and numerous addresses. Telephone calls to the pilot's attorney, and mechanic were not returned.

The pilot's instrument flight time, listed on page three of this report, was estimated by the NTSB IIC.

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