On March 21, 2006, about 1830 Alaska Standard time, a ski-equipped Piper PA-18 airplane, N6770B, sustained substantial damage from impact and postimpact fire when it collided with the ground while maneuvering for landing at a remote area, about 78 miles north of Dillingham, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) local area personal flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The airplane was operated by the pilot. The commercial certificated pilot, the sole occupant, received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight originated from a remote landing area near the accident, and no flight plan was filed. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), on March 21, FAA personnel indicated that the accident had been reported by the father of the pilot, who was flying his own airplane, a Piper PA-12, N3992M. The father relayed a radio message via an over-flying aircraft that the accident airplane had crashed and burned. Search and rescue personnel responded to the area and picked up the pilot, who was transported to a hospital in Anchorage, Alaska.
In a telephone conversation with the NTSB IIC on March 24, the father of the pilot reported that he and the accident pilot were working various trap sites throughout the day of the accident, in an area south of the Shotgun Hills, which involved numerous takeoff and landings from different spots. The two pilots in their respective airplanes would usually leap-frog each other as they checked each trap set. About 1810, the accident pilot departed a trap site to check one last trap set. He reported via radio that the trap needed attending, and planned to land near Maka Creek and the Kogrukluk River. The accident pilot's father continued on to their nearby cabin, where they planned to meet before departing the area. When the accident pilot did not arrive at the cabin, the accident pilot's father initiated an aerial search and located the crash site about 2000.
In an interview with the pilot on April 25, 2006, he indicated that his intended landing area near the accident scene had accumulated drifting snow since his last landing at the trap site. He made about 3 circles over the area, looking for a safe landing spot. The wind conditions consisted of 15 to 25 knot winds from the northwest. The pilot said he has no memory of the actual crash, nor of any aerodynamic buffet while maneuvering. His last memory before the accident was making a turn about 300 feet while looking for a landing area, with one notch of flaps. He said he was not yet ready to commit to a landing. His next memory was after the crash. The airplane was on-fire, and he crawled away from the wreckage. The fire self-extinguished in about 20 minutes, and he crawled back to the airplane and into a melted hole in the snow, beneath the engine area. He eventually heard, and then saw, his father's airplane over the crash site. The pilot reported that he thought the crash occurred while he was making a downwind turn. He indicated that the airplane's flight controls and engine were functioning normally.
The accident scene and wreckage was photographed by personnel from the Alaska State Troopers. Review of the photographs revealed that the airplane collided with the snow in a near level attitude with little forward movement. The airplane had upward crushing of the wings and fuselage. The right wing was displaced forward of its normal position and had aft leading edge crushing of the outboard half of the wing.
In the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2) submitted by the pilot, the pilot described the history of the flight and noted, "Presumably - Unintended stalled condition at relatively low altitude led to high impact crash."