On August 11, 2002, about 1545 Alaska daylight time, a wheel-equipped Bellanca 7GCBC airplane, N1163E, sustained substantial damage when it nosed over during an off-airport precautionary landing, about 8 miles east-southeast of Akiak, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) local area personal flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The airplane was operated by the pilot. The private certificated pilot, and the sole passenger, were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight originated at the Bethel Airport, Bethel, Alaska, about 1330.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), on August 13, the pilot reported that he was flying in the local area with his flight instructor who was seated in the rear seat. The flight instructor was a passenger on this flight, not performing any instructional duties. While in cruise flight about 500 feet above the ground, the rear passenger said that he smelled smoke. The pilot said he thought the smell was from wood smoke in the area, and he entered an orbit while reviewing the airplane's checklist. The passenger again said, "we've got smoke back here, coming from the floorboards." The pilot asked the passenger if he was sure. The passenger replied, "we've got smoke."

The pilot performed an emergency landing in an area of tundra. During the landing roll, the tires of the airplane dug into the soft ground, and the airplane nosed over.

In a telephone conversation on August 21, after the airplane was recovered, the pilot reported that the airplane received damage to the propeller, windshield, an upper fuselage stringer, and the right main landing gear attach point. No evidence of fire was discovered.

According to the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB form 6120.1/2) submitted by the pilot, the pilot indicated that his total flight time was 105 hours, with 24 hours as pilot-in-command. The pilot also indicated he had accrued 15 hours in the accident airplane make and model, with 5 hours as pilot-in-command.

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