ANC06LA007
ANC06LA007

On October 24, 2005, about 1400 Alaska daylight time, a Cessna 208B airplane, N1263Y, sustained substantial damage when it collided with terrain during low level maneuvering flight, about 17 miles south of Unalakleet, Alaska. The airplane was being operated by Bering Air Inc., of Nome, Alaska, as a visual flight rules (VFR) positioning flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The commercial certificated pilot and sole passenger received minor injuries. The flight departed Stebbins Airport, Stebbins, Alaska, about 1345, en route to Unalakleet.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on October 28, the director of operations for the operator said the pilot told him he was flight-seeing on the return trip to Unalakleet, when his attention was diverted to a noise in the cabin. The pilot told him that when he redirected his attention outside, the airplane collided with the brush and tundra covered terrain. According to the director of operations, the pilot said there were no mechanical problems with the airplane. The airplane sustained structural damage to the wings and fuselage during the accident.

In a written statement to the NTSB dated November 10, the pilot wrote that he "passed over a ridgeline, and entered into a valley at low level to look for animals." He wrote that he "reduced power to slow the aircraft and nosed the aircraft forward to descend," and he "heard a noise from shifting seats in the rear of the airplane." He wrote that he "looked back to see what the noise was, and by the time I turned back to the front I only had enough time to pull back on the yoke and flare the aircraft to lessen the impact."

In a written statement to the FAA dated November 1, the passenger wrote that on the multiple leg flight, the pilot typically flew between 150 and 400 feet above ground level (agl). He wrote that during the accident flight, they had descended to 150 feet agl flying through creek ravines, banking left and right at 60-80 degrees angle of bank. He reported that just prior to the accident, they did a maneuver where the airplane climbed steeply to 400-500 feet agl, then banked left about 75-80 degrees angle of bank, while descending to about 200 feet agl. He reported that during the descent, the pilot looked in the back of the airplane because of the noise some seats under a cargo net were making. He wrote that he saw the ground coming up fast, and shouted "whoa, whoa, whoa," at which time the pilot looked forward, and pulled back on the yoke just prior to the impact with the terrain.

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