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N7262D accident description

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Tail numberN7262D
Accident dateAugust 20, 1995
Aircraft typePiper PA-18A
LocationAnchorage, AK
Additional details: None

NTSB description

History of the Flight

On August 20, 1995, about 1845 Alaska daylight time, a wheel equipped Piper PA-18A, N7262D, collided with terrain while maneuvering over Mt. Susitna, about 27 miles west of Anchorage, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) local area personal flight when the accident occurred. The airplane, operated by the pilot, was destroyed by impact and postimpact fire. The certificated private pilot, the sole occupant, received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight originated at the Lake Hood airstrip, Anchorage, about 1640.

After departure, the pilot contacted the Kenai Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) by radio at 1655. He closed a previously filed VFR round robin flight plan. No further communication was received from the pilot. The pilot was reported overdue and the FAA issued an alert notice (ALNOT) on August 21, 1995, at 1627. The pilot's roommate reported that the pilot intended to practice touch-and-go-landings in the Mt. Susitna area. A search for the airplane failed to locate the crash site and was suspended on September 5, 1995. On September 17, 1995, a passenger in a helicopter spotted the crash site at the top of Mt. Susitna, about 100 yards south of the end of a small landing strip.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at latitude 61 degrees, 27.922 minutes north and longitude 150 degrees, 44.238 minutes west, about 4,100 feet mean sea level (MSL).

Crew Information

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and airplane single-engine sea ratings. The most recent third class medical certificate was issued to the pilot on May 9, 1995, and contained the limitation that the pilot must have available glasses for near vision.

No personal flight records were located for the pilot and the aeronautical experience listed on page 3 of this report was obtained from a review of the airmen Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records on file in the Airman and Medical Records Center located in Oklahoma City. On the pilot's application for medical certificate, dated May 9, 1995, the pilot indicated that his total aeronautical experience consisted of about 1,500 hours, of which 150 were accrued in the previous 6 months.

Aircraft Information

No engine or airframe maintenance records were located for the airplane.

Meteorological Information

The closest official weather observation station is Anchorage, Alaska, which is located 27 nautical miles east of the accident site. At 1651, a surface observation was reporting in part: Sky condition and ceiling, 20,000 feet thin broken clouds; visibility, 90 miles; temperature, 69 degrees F; dew point, 48 degrees F; wind, 250 degrees at 4 knots; altimeter, 30.14 inHg; remarks, small cumulus clouds in the vicinity of the station.

Communications

The only report of communications between the pilot and any FAA facility is when the pilot closed his previously filed flight plan. A transcript of the air to ground communications between the pilot and the Kenai AFSS is included in this report.

Wreckage and Impact Information

National Transportation Safety Board investigators examined the airplane wreckage at the accident site on September 18, 1995. A path of wreckage debris and ground scars from the initial point of observed ground contact to the wreckage point of rest was on a magnetic heading of 090 degrees. (All heading/bearings noted in this report are oriented toward magnetic north.)

The first observed evidence of ground contact was a fan-shaped disruption of the ground with a wing inspection plate lying nearby. The wreckage path began just below the crest of a small saddle and continued downslope for about 120 feet to the point of rest. Portions of the airplane, including the carburetor, paint chips, air cleaner, broken pieces of windshield, and airframe tubing were scattered from the initial ground contact point to the point of rest. A small dirt airstrip oriented on a 010/190 degree heading along the top of the mountain ridge was located about 100 yards north of the accident site. The terrain consisted of large rocks and patches of tundra. At the point of rest, the wreckage was positioned in a large, grey colored rock outcropping. The rocks are covered with a mottled pattern of black lichen.

All of the airplane's major components were found at the main wreckage area. The fuselage was lodged in large rocks with the tail downslope. The nose of the airframe was oriented on a northerly heading. The right wing was folded upslope about 90 degrees forward of the fuselage. It exhibited extensive leading edge destruction. The left wing was folded under the fuselage to the right. Both wings were separated from the fuselage at the spar carrythrough. Both lift struts remained attached to the respective wing and its lower attach points. The flight control surfaces remained connected to their respective attach points but were extensively fire damaged.

Due to the impact and postimpact fire damage, the flight controls could not be operated by their respective control mechanisms. Continuity of the flight control cables to the cockpit area was established. The postcrash fire incinerated the cockpit area. No external fabric covering remained on the airframe. Both main landing gear assemblies were displaced to the right side of the fuselage.

The propeller separated from the engine crankshaft and was located about 30 feet west of the engine. The spinner was crushed aft, flat against the hub. One propeller blade exhibited extensive leading edge gouging, chordwise scratching, "S" bending, and torsional twisting. The second blade was bent aft about 90 degrees about mid-span and also exhibited extensive leading edge gouging and scratching.

The engine separated from the airframe and was located to the west of the fuselage about 2 feet. It sustained impact and fire damage to the underside and front portion of the engine. The exhaust tubes were crushed upward against the engine and exhibited extensive bending and folding without cracking of the fold creases. The accessory section of the engine was extensively damaged by fire. The carburetor separated from the engine and sustained substantial impact damage. The instrument panel was destroyed by impact and fire. The engine primer was found in the locked position.

Medical and Pathological Information

A postmortem examination of the pilot was conducted under the authority of the State of Alaska, Office of the State Medical Examiner, 5700 E. Tudor, Anchorage, Alaska, on September 20, 1995. The medical examiner reported that suitable material for a toxicological examination was not present.

Search and Rescue

An active search for the airplane was conducted from August 21, 1995, to September 5, 1995 . The specific area around the accident site on Mt. Susitna was examined by various aerial search personnel for about 16 hours, out of a total of 416 hours, over the period of the active search. On the day of the accident, about 1845, a passenger in an airplane flying over Mt. Susitna reported to search personnel that she observed an airplane crest Mt. Susitna near the top of the mountain. The airplane appeared to turn downslope and then disappeared from view. A large cloud of dust was generated in a straight line down the side of the mountain. The location of her observation was near the eventual location of the wreckage and was pinpointed on a map by the witness for search personnel. A search aircraft again searched Mt. Susitna and reported observing miscellaneous debris.

Additional Information

The Safety Board did not take custody of the wreckage. No parts or components were retained by the Safety Board.

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