On September 13, 2012, about 1400 Alaska daylight time, a wheel/ski equipped Cessna A185F airplane, N4786Q, sustained substantial damage following an in-flight collision with an electrical transmission line near Denali Park, Alaska. The certificated commercial pilot was not injured. The airplane was owned by the pilot, and operated by Denali Air, Denali Park, as a visual flight rules (VFR) weather observation flight under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 when the accident occurred. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a company VFR flight plan was in effect. The flight originated from the Denali Park Airstrip about 1340.

In a written statement to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), the pilot stated that the purpose of the flight was to determine if the weather was suitable enough to run flightseeing operations to the glacier east of the Denali Park Airstrip. After determining the weather conditions over the glacier, he turned around for the return trip to the Denali Park Airstrip. He stated that it is normal procedure to lower the skis while flying over snow, in the event that a landing needed to be made. He said that when he lowered the skis, there was an abnormal sound, but everything appeared to be operating normally. When he attempted to raise the skis again, in preparation for landing at the Denali Park Airstrip, he noticed that the right ski did not sound or feel normal, and he could hear “a light popping sound,” accompanied by oscillations in pitch and yaw. He stated that, while he was attempting to troubleshoot the ski problem, he had descended below his intended flight path, and was getting close to the terrain. He said that as he raised the airplane’s nose to climb, a more violent popping and banging sound occurred, accompanied with a loss in airspeed, strong vibration, and a severe yaw to the right.

The pilot said that he was able to maintain control of the airplane, and made two passes over the runway at the Denali Park Airstrip. During the passes, he was able to determine that the right ski had deflected to a vertical position. Further attempts to realign the ski were unsuccessful, and the pilot elected to land the airplane with the ski in the vertical position. During the landing, the right ski folded under the right main landing gear wheel.

On September 14, a representative of the Golden Valley Electric Association, Fairbanks, Alaska, delivered a piece of severed transmission tower static cable, along with a piece of red painted metal that resembled an airplane propeller spinner, to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Fairbanks Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). He stated that approximately 1400 on September 13, a power outage occurred when the severed static cable contacted the main transmission lines of the Alaska Intertie.

In a telephone conversation with the NTSB IIC on September 14, the pilot stated that he was aware of the power line, but he was not aware that the airplane had made contact with it.

On September 15, two aviation safety inspectors from the FAA’s Anchorage FSDO traveled to the operator’s hangar, and documented the damage to the airplane. The left wing sustained substantial damage to the leading edge and aileron. Approximately 7 inches of one propeller blade was missing, and there were multiple scratches and gouges in both propeller blades. The right ski had been removed from the airplane to facilitate moving it from the runway, but examination of the ski revealed the bolt that connects the ski to the ski actuator was broken. There were multiple scratches and wire abrasion marks on the airplane. The left wing had a large gash near the center of the wing, consistent with contact with the power line.

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