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CFVZP accident description

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Tail numberCFVZP
Accident dateSeptember 22, 1994
Aircraft typeCessna A185E
LocationJuneau, AK
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On September 22, 1994, at 0930 Alaska daylight time, a float equipped Cessna A185E, C-FVZP, collided with mountainous terrain shortly after take off from the Snettisham seaplane base located 34 miles east of Juneau, Alaska. Visual to instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and a visual flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight that was conducted in accordance with 14CFR91. The airplane was substantially damaged and the Canadian commercial pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. The flight was en route to Telegraph Creek, British Columbia, Canada.

Search and rescue personnel were notified on September 22, 1994, at 1234 of a possible aircraft accident. A search mission began and the airplane was located on September 24, 1994, at 1604.

Witnesses at Snettisham reported that the airplane landed at 0830 to off-load fish eggs for the Snettisham fish hatchery. The witness asked the pilot how the flight was and the pilot reported that he had to "pick his way through." [navigate around weather]

The pilot stated that he wanted a fast turn-around and the airplane was loaded with jugs of water and coolers filled with blocks of ice. The witness stated that the pilot did the actual loading of the cargo. A piece of plywood was then positioned on top of the cargo. After the cargo was loaded, the witness stated that the pilot said that he would probably not go back up the Speel Valley, but would go up the Whiting Valley. (See attached map for location of valleys.)

The witness stated that during the whole time that they were loading the airplane, heavy rain was falling with the wind blowing from the south at 20 knots. The witness estimated that the visibility was approximately one-half mile. The witness also stated that the airplane was loaded with more cargo than he had seen the pilot put in before.

Two other witnesses located at the mouth of Speel Lake reported that they observed the airplane flying northbound up the center of Speel Valley at approximately 600 feet above ground level. They stated that the weather was poor with low clouds. The witnesses stated that the airplane appeared to be trying to gain altitude to clear the terrain. The witnesses heard the sound of the engine increase as the airplane began to make tight left turns. The witnesses lost sight of the airplane when it entered the clouds and noted that the airplane appeared to make a right turn as if trying to return to Snettisham. Shortly after the airplane entered the clouds, they could no longer hear the sound of the engine.

Personnel at Telegraph Creek reported that the pilot had flown this route several times before to make the fish egg deliveries. The route for the day of the accident was from Telegraph Creek, to Tahltan Lake, an approximate ten minute flight. The flight then continued on to Snettisham, with a return to Telegraph Creek.


Transport Canada reported that the pilot held a commercial certificate for single engine land and sea operations, and multi engine land operations. A Class 1 instrument rating was valid to March 1, 1988. The pilot was not night time rated. A medical examination was performed on April 18, 1994. At this time, the pilot reported a total flight time of 6,850 hours. The pilot's flight logbook was not provided for review.


The U.S. Coast Guard provided the coordinates of the accident site which located the wreckage on the east side of the Speel Valley at an elevation of 1,900 feet, approximately six miles north of Snettisham. The area was surrounded by rising terrain in excess of 3,000 feet, however, one of the witnesses reported that valleys around the 2,000 foot level were also used to navigate through the range. The terrain was covered with low brush and sparsely populated trees measuring at varying heights to approximately 100 feet. A ridge line rising to 2,000 feet was located to the northeast and within a quarter of a mile of the accident site. The terrain to the southwest descended slightly for several hundred feet then dropped rapidly to the valley floor.

The airplane was positioned on its right side with the nose of the airplane pointing uphill on a magnetic bearing of 180 degrees. A steep rock bank was located ten feet from the nose of the airplane. Approximately 40 feet further uphill, two trees were damaged. One tree was noted to have the top broken off approximately 50 up from the base. The top of the tree was located next to the wreckage. Another tree located approximately ten feet away from the first tree displayed several broken branches along one side. Near the bases of these trees, the left wing tip was located.

The right wing was positioned directly under and paralleling the fuselage. Both the flap and aileron remained attached. Leading edge rearward crushing was noted. The left wing separated from the fuselage at the wing root, however, the control cables remained intact. The left wing displayed leading edge rearward crushing near the root and outboard to approximately mid-section.

The outboard section of the wing was severely deformed. The flap remained attached to its respective hinges, and appeared to be in the retracted position. The aileron was deformed and partially attached.

The empennage was intact with the horizontal and vertical stabilizers in place. Both the rudder and elevators remained attached to their respective hinges. The aft control cable connections were intact with the cables attached.

The area from the nose of the airplane to the aft cargo compartment was crushed rearward. The engine partially separated from the firewall and the engine mounts were broken. The propeller remained attached to the engine and was buried in the soft soil with only one propeller blade visible. This blade was broken near the tip. The tip of this blade was located at the accident site and measured eight inches in length. The tip of the blade displayed chordwise scratching and leading edge damage. The remainder of the blade displayed twisting damage. The other blade was bent rearward.

Both floats remained attached at the fuselage. The front one third of both floats were severely crushed upward and rearward. The remainder of the floats aft of the forward strut were intact.

The cargo consisted of ten Igloo coolers and ten five-gallon water containers that were located in and around the accident site. The Igloo coolers contained blocks of ice that weighed approximately 20 pounds each.


An autopsy was performed by M. W. Stewart, MD, in Juneau, Alaska. The report stated that the cause of death to the pilot was due to multiple trauma. Toxicological samples were sent to the Department of Defense Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C. for examination. The results of the examination were negative.


The Pilot's Operating Handbook applicable to this airplane reports that the maximum gross takeoff weight with the Edo 628- 2960 floats is 3,290 pounds. The aircraft empty weight is 2,118 pounds. The weight of the pilot and passenger was estimated at 379 pounds. The weight of the cargo was estimated at 620 pounds.

Company personnel confirmed that the airplane initially departed from Telegraph Creek with full fuel tanks. The remaining fuel at the time of the accident was estimated at 40 gallons or 240 pounds. The gross weight at the time of the accident is estimated at 3,357 pounds.

Search and rescue personnel reported that the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) did not emit a signal. The ELT was removed for testing and it was found that the area near the antenna connection and switch displayed impact damage. During the test, it was found that the G-switch operated effectively, however, in the armed position or in the on position, the unit would not emit a signal. The battery pack was undamaged and produced sufficient voltage. The pack displayed a battery expiration date of June 1996. The circuit board did not display impact damage. The crystal in the circuit board was found inoperative. A new crystal was installed and the unit produced a frequency that met tolerances. The external damage to the antenna and switch did not effect the operation of the unit once the new crystal was installed.

The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on October 12, 1994. The wreckage was removed from the accident site and secured at Atlin B.C.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.