On October 5, 2001, about 1750 Alaska daylight time, a wheel-equipped Cessna 185F airplane, N9344N, sustained substantial damage during landing at the Bethel Airport, Bethel, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country government flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The airplane was owned and operated by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The public use flight was being operated in support of a bird survey for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The certificated commercial pilot and the two passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a VFR flight plan was in effect.

In a written statement to the National Transportation Safety Board, the pilot reported that while on approach for landing on runway 18, he encountered wind estimated to be from 230 degrees at 8 knots, which required a right crosswind correction. The pilot wrote: "Upon contact of the mains, I felt a very hard pull to the right. I then applied left rudder and brake, but this was ineffective in stopping it from coming around to the right." The airplane ultimately ground looped to the right, and the left wing and left elevator struck the edge of the runway. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing and left elevator.

A postaccident disassembly and inspection of the accident airplane's tailwheel assembly revealed that tailwheel steering horn showed signs of wear.

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