HISTORY OF FLIGHT Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
On December 13, 2002, sometime after 0844 Alaska standard time, a float-equipped Cessna 180 airplane, N9701G, is presumed to have crashed into the water, about 40 miles northwest of Petersburg, Alaska. The pilot's body was recovered; however, the airplane has not been located and is presumed to have been destroyed. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) personal flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, the pilot. The solo certificated private pilot received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the point of departure, and a VFR flight plan was filed. The accident flight originated at the Petersburg Airport about 0826.
After departing Petersburg, the pilot contacted the In-Flight One position at the Sitka Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) via radio, and filed a round robin, VFR flight plan from Petersburg en route to Hoonah Sound, returning to Petersburg at 1600. The pilot reported that he had 6 hours of fuel on board.
At 0844, while in the vicinity of Mount Franshaw, located about 30 miles northwest of Petersburg, the pilot again contacted the In-Flight One position at the Sitka AFSS via the Remote Communication Outlet (RCO) on 121.0 MHz. During that radio transmission, the accident pilot reported to the AFSS specialist on duty that deteriorating weather conditions to the north would not allow him to complete his flight along his previously planed route. He then requested that his flight plan be amended to show his route of flight from Petersburg to Seymour Canal, Gambier Bay, Pybus Bay, returning to Petersburg at 1600. No further radio communication was received from the airplane.
The airplane did not reach the intended destination of Petersburg. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an alert notice (ALNOT) about 1630. Search personnel began an extensive search effort that included aircraft, surface vessels, and ground search personnel. The search was suspended on December 20, 2002.
On December 30, 2002, the pilot's body was discovered in the tidal ocean waters at latitude 56.45.00 north latitude, and 132.56.00 west longitude, along the northerly shore of West Brother Island, located about 43 nautical miles north-northwest of Petersburg.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land and sea ratings. The most recent third-class medical certificate was issued to the pilot on July 16, 2001, and contained no limitations.
No personal flight records were located for the pilot. On the pilot's application for medical certificate, dated July 16, 2001, the pilot indicated that his total aeronautical experience consisted of about 900 hours, of which 150 were accrued in the past six months.
No airframe or engine records were located for the accident airplane.
The closest official weather observation station is located at the Petersburg Airport. On December 13, 2002, at 1555, an automated weather observation system was reporting, in part: visibility, 10 statute miles; clouds, 1,000 feet few, 4,200 feet scattered, 6,000 feet scattered; temperature, 37 degrees F; dew point, 34 degrees F; altimeter, 29.18 inHg. Remarks: Patches of fog reported to the north.
Pilots who were flying in the area reported that weather conditions to the north-northwest, and specifically in the direction of Gambier Bay and Pybus Bay, were much worse than those being reported at the airport.
The FAA had no record of the pilot having requested or received a preflight or en route weather briefing.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
A postmortem examination of the pilot was conducted under the authority of the Alaska State Medical Examiner, 4500 South Boniface Parkway, Anchorage, Alaska, on January 1, 2003. The cause of death for the pilot was attributed to drowning. The medical examiner who conducted the postmortem examination noted in part, in the section labeled other significant conditions: "Blunt force trauma to head and neck."
A toxicological examination was conducted by the FAA's Civil Aero Medical Institute (CAMI) on February 21, 2003, and with the exception of postmortem ethanol, the test was negative for drugs or alcohol. The report noted that the ethanol found in this case is from postmortem formation and not from the ingestion of ethanol.
Search personnel reported that survival time, in water less than 40 degrees F, is typically less than one hour. The pilot, when found was wearing an unclasped, vest/float jacket.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
Search personnel reported they conducted an extensive search along the pilot's anticipated route of flight, extending to Seymour Canal, Gambier Bay, and Pybus Bay. No portion of the missing airplane was found.