ANC03LA036
ANC03LA036

On March 28, 2003, about 1600 Alaska standard time, a tundra tire-equipped Piper PA-18-150 airplane, N4448Z, sustained substantial damage when it nosed over during landing on snow-covered Lake George, about 20 miles south-southeast of Palmer, Alaska. The airplane was being operated by the pilot as a visual flight rules (VFR) local personal flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The airline transport pilot and the sole passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed.

During a telephone conference call on March 29, in which an FAA aviation safety inspector participated, the pilot told the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) that during the takeoff roll on Lake George, the airplane encountered soft snow and nosed down.

In a telephone conversation with the IIC on April 1, the owner of the shop repairing the airplane said the rudder and the right-side lift struts were replaced due to damage received in the accident.

During a telephone conversation with the IIC on April 8, the pilot said the accident occurred during landing, and not during takeoff as he originally reported. He also stated the airplane nosed over during the accident, and not nosed down, as he originally reported. The pilot said the damage to the right wing lift struts were the result of he and the passenger exiting the airplane, and not a result of the accident. The pilot said the damage to the rudder was the result of trying to turn the airplane upright, onto its landing gear. The pilot said the only other damage to the airplane was to the propeller and the nose cowling.

In a written statement by the pilot to the IIC received on May 6, the pilot reiterated his statement to the IIC during the telephone conversation on April 8.

The mechanic who is repairing the airplane told the IIC during a telephone conversation on May 16, that when he arrived at the accident site the airplane was upside-down, and the tail was buried in the snow. He said he noticed the damage to the propeller, and the right wing lift struts. He said there was no damage to the underside of the right wing. He said during the process of righting the airplane the tail came up out of the snow, the airplane slid forward, and the tail fell back into the snow. The mechanic said the top 8 inches of the tail was bent over to one side, but he did not know if the damage was the result of the accident or the recovery. The mechanic said in addition to the damage reported by the pilot, 4 right wing main ribs, and 2 left wing ribs, had been flattened. He said the repair required cutting into the wings at each rib, straightening each rib, and riveting a stiffener to each rib.

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