ANC04LA018
ANC04LA018

On January 2, 2004, about 1630 Alaska standard time, a Piper PA-31-350 airplane, N45008, sustained substantial damage when it collided with terrain about 3 miles southeast of Koyukuk, Alaska, while maneuvering in whiteout conditions. The airplane was being operated by Larry's Flying Service, Inc., Fairbanks, Alaska, as a visual flight rules (VFR) cargo flight under Title 14, CFR Part 135, at the time of the accident. The solo airline transport pilot was seriously injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and company VFR flight following procedures were in effect. The flight departed Galena, Alaska, about 1620.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on January 2, the chief pilot for the operator said he was tracking the accident flight from Galena to Koyukuk because basic VFR minimums prevailed, and snow showers had been reported along the route of flight. He said when the flight failed to check in at the anticipated arrival time, he contacted the Koyukuk village agent. He said the village agent reported hearing the airplane overhead, but a snow shower had reduced the visibility to zero. When the accident airplane could not be contacted by radio, a search was initiated. Searchers located the airplane about 3 miles southeast of the village. According to the chief pilot, the accident pilot said he entered a snow squall and descended along the riverbed trying to maintain visual contact with the ground, and was in whiteout conditions when the airplane collided with terrain. The airplane sustained structural damage to the wings, fuselage, and tail. The chief pilot indicated that the accident pilot told him there were no preaccident mechanical anomalies with the airplane.

The NTSB IIC had a telephone conversation with the accident pilot on January 8. During that conversation, the accident pilot reported essentially the same information as the chief pilot.

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