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N2350T accident description

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Tail numberN2350T
Accident dateAugust 01, 1998
Aircraft typePiper PA-28-140
LocationCantwell, AK
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On August 1, 1998, about 1340 Alaska daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140 airplane, N2350T, was destroyed when it collided with rising terrain, about 37 miles southwest of Cantwell, Alaska, at position 63 degrees 14.54 minutes North latitude, 150 degrees 11.95 minutes West longitude. The solo private pilot sustained fatal injuries. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. The flight departed Merrill Field, Anchorage, Alaska, at 1238, destined for Fairbanks, Alaska. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed along the proposed route of flight at the time of the accident, and a VFR flight plan was filed. The pilot did not hold an instrument rating.

About 1335, an air taxi pilot inbound for Talkeetna, Alaska, overheard a radio transmission on 123.6 MHz from the accident pilot calling Talkeetna Radio. The accident pilot stated his full aircraft call sign, and said he was lost in the clouds and wanted help. The Talkeetna Flight Service Station did not receive the transmission, but two airborne air taxi pilots did. Both air taxi pilots told the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) during telephone interviews on August 4, that the pilot sounded stressed and frantic. They reported to the IIC that the pilot began to give his position, and then stated he was tracking 235. No other transmissions were received.

An Emergency Locator Transmitter signal was received from the south side of Mount McKinley at 1440.

The airplane was located about 2100 in mountainous terrain by an Alaska Air National Guard helicopter. Terrain within 10 miles of the accident site extends up to 10,000 feet msl. The wreckage was situated approximately 7,200 feet msl, about 300 feet below a ridge.

Two Alaska Air National Guard Pararescuemen (PJs) climbed to the accident site after being landed by helicopter on the ridge above, and confirmed the pilot was deceased. These two PJs informed the NTSB IIC on August 2 that the airplane had impacted a 45 degree snow slope in a level attitude. They described the front half of the airplane buried in the snow, and the tail sticking out. The cabin was full of camping gear. The airplane was described as unstable, with the possibility of sliding down a several thousand feet long snow slope. No photographs were taken by the PJs.

Due to unfavorable weather, nearly continuous snowfall, avalanche danger, and steep terrain, the airplane and pilot were not recovered.

The reported clouds at Cantwell, 27 miles northeast of the accident site, at the time of the accident were scattered clouds at 7,000 feet msl. Three air taxi pilots interviewed by the IIC related that after overhearing the pilot's distress call, they looked to the north and observed a layer of scattered to broken clouds and cumulus buildups along the eastern flank of the McKinley massif. All the pilots interviewed indicated the bases of the clouds were about 5,000 feet msl, and that it was clear above 9,000 feet. They each stated that most of the mountain range was in the clear, and that they were able to pick their way around the clouds.

The pilot's brother was interviewed by the IIC on August 3. He indicated that the pilot departed California on July 11, and did not intend to return until the end of August. He had purchased a new GPS for the trip. The airplane and pilot logs were in the airplane. The pilot's family completed the NTSB Pilot/Operator report.

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