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On June 25, 2004, about 1600 Alaska daylight time, a Beech 36 airplane, N7673N, was destroyed by impact with terrain and a postcrash fire, about 45 miles north of Talkeetna, Alaska. The airplane was being operated by the pilot as a visual flight rules (VFR) personal flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The solo private pilot received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed.
During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on June 27, the co-owner of the airplane said the pilot of the accident airplane departed San Diego, California, for Alaska on June 17. He said the pilot was on vacation, and had no planned itinerary. He related the pilot had made annual trips to Alaska for many years, and was very familiar with Alaska. He said the pilot planned to leave the airplane in Alaska, return home, and then return to Alaska later in the summer and continue the vacation. He said the airplane was equipped for instrument flight, and both he and the accident pilot often flew with the autopilot engaged using the heading bug to make course changes. According to the co-owner, an annual inspection was completed the first week in June, and there were no known mechanical anomalies with the airplane.
The pilot's flight itinerary is unknown, but the airplane departed Kenai Airport, Kenai, Alaska, about 1300. According to line personnel at the Kenai Airport, Kenai, Alaska, the accident airplane was fueled at Kenai on June 25, the day of the accident, about 1000. The site of the accident is 175 miles north of Kenai, well below, but along the route of Victor Airway 436. The airplane's wreckage path is consistent with the northbound course of Victor Airway 436 from Talkeetna, Alaska, to Nenana, Alaska. This is a popular route from Kenai to Fairbanks, Alaska, where the pilot was known to have visited on previous trips to Alaska.
On June 25, about 1620, a motorist reported a brush fire on a hillside, across the valley on the north side of the Parks Highway, about 45 miles north of Talkeetna. At 1815 the first fire crews arrived, and discovered the wreckage of the airplane.
INJURIES TO PERSONS
The solo pilot received fatal injuries.
DAMAGE TO AIRCRAFT
The airplane was destroyed by impact with terrain and a postcrash fire.
The pilot's logbook was not located, and is presumed destroyed in the postcrash fire. According to FAA documents, the pilot held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for single-engine land, and multi-engine land airplane. According to an application for an FAA medical certificate dated May 1, 2003, he had accumulated 4,650 total hours of flying experience. He also held a valid third class medical certificate issued by the FAA.
The airplane was a model year 1968 Beech 36. Its last annual inspection was on June 4, 2004, and at that time had accumulated 4,865 service hours. The engine had a total time of 4,865 hours, including 486 hours since major overhaul. The airplane was equipped for instrument flight, and had a three-axis autopilot.
There are no weather reporting stations close to the accident site. According to fire department personnel who responded to the accident, the sky was clear, and visibility was unrestricted. The winds were calm, and the temperature was 62 degrees F.
AIDS TO NAVAGATION
No aids to navigation were involved in the accident.
There were no en route communications with the accident airplane.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage site was located on a south facing slope in the foothills of the Alaska Range, at the 3,160 foot elevation, about 45 miles north of Talkeetna. The slope is open and treeless, consisting of dirt with rock outcroppings, and low-growing plant life.
On June 26, the IIC conducted an on-site investigation accompanied by an FAA representative.
The wreckage debris path was about 400 feet long on a general heading of 360 degrees magnetic, and rose about 150 feet in elevation from the initial point of impact to the final resting place of the main wreckage. The initial point of impact consisted of about 30 feet of disrupted "tilled" soil, with the ground and the rocks displaced to the west (left). Pieces of the propeller blades, and antenna from the bottom of the airplane, were found in the tilled area. At the end of the tilled area, the ground scar stopped when the airplane became airborne, and cleared a depression about 30 feet across. The three-bladed propeller and hub assembly, less the blade fragments found in the tilled area, was intact, and located in the bottom of the depression. One blade was imbedded in the ground up to the hub. All three blades exhibited extreme torsional twisting and bending, the tips of the blades were broken off, and the leading edges were gouged. The engine crankshaft had broken off at the propeller flange, and the spinner exhibited impact and rotational damage. Pieces of the windscreen were also found in the depression. The airplane came to rest about 300 feet north of the depression on an uphill slope. Uphill, toward the main wreckage, larger pieces of the lower fuselage, windscreen, lower engine cowl, and engine mufflers were found. A postcrash fire consumed most of the cabin and empennage. All the major components and control surfaces were located with the main wreckage. Control continuity could not be confirmed due to the extent of the fire. The landing gear was in the retracted position, and the flaps were up. The wings were straight, and exhibited minor impact damage to their leading edges. The flight controls, engine instruments, and all communications and navigation equipment were consumed by the fire. The engine broke loose from the fuselage, and rolled 20 yards downhill. The engine was heavily damaged by impact and the postcrash fire. The engine exhaust manifolds had sharp bending and folding without cracking at the creases.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The pilot was recovered from the burned cockpit area. A postmortem examination of the pilot was conducted under the authority of the Alaska State Medical Examiner, 4500 South Boniface Parkway, Anchorage, Alaska, on June 26, 2004. The examination revealed the cause of death of the pilot was multiple blunt force trauma. Toxicology tests were performed at the FAA laboratory in Okalahoma City, Oklahoma, and Quinine was detected in the liver.
According to a statement by a family member, the pilot was a diabetic who controlled his condition with oral medication. The family did not provide any medical records or corroborating documentation. The pilot did not report the condition on his request for his FAA medical certificate, and the FAA was unaware of the condition. A review of available FAA medical records, autopsy, and toxicology did not disclose any incapacitating conditions.
The Safety Board did not take custody of the wreckage, and no parts or components were retained by the Safety Board.