ANC06LA119
ANC06LA119

On August 19, 2006, about 1010 Alaska daylight time, a float-equipped Cessna U206G airplane, N4975U, sustained substantial damage when it collided with terrain while maneuvering in a mountain pass, about 2 miles southwest of Whittier, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country air taxi flight under Title 14, CFR Part 135, when the accident occurred. The airplane was operated by Jim Air Inc., Anchorage, Alaska. The airline transport certificated pilot received serious injuries, and the three passengers received minor injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area of the accident. VFR company flight following procedures were in effect. The flight originated at the Lake Hood Seaplane Base, Anchorage, about 0940, and was en route to the Valdez Arm of Prince William Sound.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), on August 25, the pilot reported that prior to departure he checked several sources for weather information along his planned route, which is one he has traveled numerous times. His information included a report from Whittier that included an overcast ceiling of 2,000 feet, and a visibility of 2 miles. The pilot said that when he got to Portage, Alaska, he slowed the airplane because of anticipated turbulence, and was about 1,600 feet msl. At the Portage Glacier, he looked into Portage Pass, which leads to Whittier, and noticed haze on the right side of the pass. He said the left side of the pass was clearer, and he proceeded into the pass about 1,400 feet msl, hugging the left side. The pilot indicated that he was maintaining visibility with the ground, but after looking up, his view to the front became all white. He started a right turn to reverse course, but the airplane's floats collided with up sloping terrain on the left side of the pass.

Portage Pass is a mountain pass about 2.3 miles long, between Portage Lake, and Whittier. The elevation of Portage Lake is about 120 feet mean sea level (msl), and Whittier is located at sea level. The altitude of the center of the pass is about 700 feet msl. Mountain peaks on either side rise to over 3,000 feet msl.

There are weather reporting facilities at Portage, which is about 3.2 miles from the accident site, and at Whittier. At 0953, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) at Portage was reporting, in part: Wind, 120 degrees (true) at 9 knots, gusts to 17 knots; visibility, 7 statute miles in light rain; clouds and sky condition, few at 3,000 feet, 3,900 feet overcast; temperature, 54 degrees F; dew point, 45 degrees F; altimeter, 29.78 inHg. At 0946, a METAR at Whittier was reporting, in part: Wind, 080 degrees (true) at 10 knots, gusts to 14 knots; visibility, 2 statute miles in light rain and mist; clouds and sky condition, 2,000 feet overcast; temperature, 50 degrees F; dew point, 48 degrees F; altimeter, 29.86 inHg.

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