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N9827T accident description

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Tail numberN9827T
Accident dateJuly 14, 1995
Aircraft typeCessna 172A
LocationNaknek, AK
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 14, 1995, about 1750 Alaskan daylight time, N9827T, a Cessna 172A on floats, operated by the owner/pilot, collided with N7531K, a Piper PA-18 on floats, also operated by the owner/pilot, in flight while maneuvering near Naknek, Alaska. Both airplanes were destroyed. Both pilots, the sole occupants, were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plans had been filed. Both airplanes departed from the Naknek Airport, and both flights were conducted under 14 CFR 91 for aerial observation purposes.

According to witnesses, both airplanes were maneuvering between 200 and 500 feet above Kvichak Bay near Naknek while performing fish spotting for numerous fishing vessels below them. Both airplanes were communicating with separately assigned fishing vessels, and no distress calls were reported prior to the collision.

One eyewitness was on the aft starboard deck of the fishing vessel "Gold River" at the time of the accident. He stated that the pilot of the Cessna 172A was spotting fish for the "Gold River." When he first saw the Cessna, it was flying perpendicular to the shoreline heading southeast toward the vessel. The "Gold River" was travelling north parallel to the eastern shore towards the vessel at the time. When the witness looked up at the airplane a second time, he noticed the Cessna "gradually" turning left, as if the pilot was spotting for fish. The Cessna was about 400 feet directly overhead of the witness at that time. The witness stated that he was "looking straight up."

The witness stated that he saw the Piper suddenly fly from behind and to the right of the Cessna. He observed the Piper clip a wing of the Cessna. He then watched the Piper continue along its original flight path and "spiral" into the water. He also stated that the Piper had its wings leveled and the Cessna was banking to the left just prior to the collision. He also recalled that the Piper was slightly above the Cessna. His sketch (attached) described a collision angle of about 30 degrees between the two airplanes.

The captain of the "Gold River" was also a witness to the accident. He was on the forward deck of the fishing vessel "Gold River" at the time of the accident. The captain stated that he did not see the actual collision, but he looked up as soon as he heard it. He stated that the "Gold River" was steaming about 8 knots along the eastern shoreline. He saw the Cessna's tail (which he described as orange) falling down toward the water, as he looked over his left shoulder. Then he looked over to his right and saw the rest of the Cessna fall into the water. Captain Palmer stated that he was in radio communication with the Cessna pilot about one minute prior to the accident; no distress calls from the pilot were heard.

The captain also stated that there were two other planes flying in the area on the day of the accident, the Piper and an unknown wheel-equipped airplane. He stated that the Cessna pilot was spotting for the "Gold River" as well as 11 other boats. The captain stated that the Cessna pilot began flying about 10:30 a.m. as per his usual routine, then stopped for fuel and food, then proceeded onto the accident flight. The Cessna had not been flying for an extended period of time before the accident, he stated.

Another witness was on board the fishing vessel "Double D" at the time of the accident. The vessel was about one mile from the collision. The witness stated that the Piper PA-18 pilot, was spotting for the "Double D," and the pilot was in communication with the vessel at the time of the accident. The PA-18 pilot reported to the witness that he spotted some fish as he flew south. The "Double D" and three other vessels "took off running" toward the spot. The witness spotted the PA-18 flying "counterclockwise" around the spot. He then heard a scream over the radio and looked up to see the collision. Mr. Hughes reported that the two airplanes landed about 300 to 400 feet apart in the water. The witness stated that the pilot "always had his lights on" and that there were three airplanes flying over the area at the time of the accident.

Two other witnesses on board the fishing vessel "Miller Time," which was located about 1/4 mile east of the collision point, stated that both airplanes were "straight and level" at about the same altitude when they collided. They saw the airplanes for about 5 to 10 seconds before they collided. They stated that it appeared both pilots saw each other, because they both "pulled up just before the crash." One of the witnesses stated that after the airplanes collided, they "both spun around and curled around each other" before impacting the water.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at 58 degrees, 48.52 minutes North and 157 degrees, 22.20 minutes West.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot of the Cessna 172A, age 33, male, was a certificated private pilot with ratings for single engine land and sea airplanes. According to FAA records, the pilot was issued an FAA Second Class Medical Certificate on June 3, 1992, with no limitations. The certificate was expired at the time of the accident. Excerpts from the pilot's personal logbook were recovered by local authorities. Entries in the logbook indicated that the pilot had recorded a total of about 3,400 flight hours.

The captain of the "Gold River" stated that the Cessna pilot probably did not fly for an extended period of time on the day prior to the accident, because it was a "slow" day for fishing. The captain stated that he saw the Cessna pilot on the evening prior to the accident about 8:30 p.m. He said that the pilot was getting prepared to sleep, and his demeanor was described as normal. The captain also stated that the pilot had been spotting fish for 11 seasons.

The pilot of the Piper PA-18, age 47, was a certificated commercial pilot with ratings for single engine land and sea airplanes. According to FAA records, the pilot was issued an FAA Second Class Medical Certificate on July 25, 1994, with no limitations. At the time of the medical examination, the pilot reported that he had a total of 2,300 hours of flight time. The pilot's personal logbook was not recovered.

According to the witness on board the "Double D," the pilot was on his second flight of the day, and had flown for about one hour prior to the accident. He had flown for about four hours beginning at 10:00 a.m. prior to the accident flight. The witness also stated that the pilot had flown for about 1.5 hours one day before the accident, and the pilot's demeanor appeared normal. The witness also stated that the pilot had been spotting fish for the previous six years.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage of the entire Piper, sections of the left outboard section of the left wing from the Cessna, the entire right wing of the Cessna, and the engine of the Cessna, were examined on a loading dock in Naknek on July 15 and July 16, 1995. This wreckage had been recovered by a fishing vessel on the evening of the accident in order to keep it from washing away during the low tide. The wreckage of the remainder of the Cessna was examined at the accident site during low tide on July 16, 1995.

All primary and secondary flight control surfaces for both airplanes were accounted for during the examinations. No evidence of a preimpact flight control malfunction was found. An examination of the engines from the Cessna and the Piper did not disclose evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction.

According to officials from the Bristol Bay Police Department, the aircraft wreckage was found separated into the following pieces: Cessna 172A engine, Cessna 172A left outboard wing section, entire Cessna 172A right wing, entire left wing of the Piper PA-18, fuselage and empennage of the Cessna 172A, fuselage and empennage of the Piper PA-18. This observation was made after the low tide had moved out and the wreckage had been dragged by the water's current.

A detailed examination of the wreckage pieces by the Safety Board revealed that the underside of the separated left wing section of the Cessna contained a "V"-shaped impression. Grey paint transfer was found imbedded in the "V" shape. Black rubber residue was found on the leading edge of the wing section.

An examination of the right float forward attach struts of the Piper revealed a similar "V" shape with grey paint. The tip of the float had a black rubber covering installed.

The body of the Piper's float had orange paint exposed where the grey paint had been scraped off. An examination of the leading edge of the remainder of the Cessna's left wing, which remained attached to the fuselage, revealed orange paint transfer marks and upward compression damage.

An examination of the propeller of the Piper revealed a distinct gouge in the leading edge of one of the blades. No gouges were found on the propeller of the Cessna.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy and toxicological analysis were performed on the pilot of the Cessna 172A by Dr. Michael T. Probst, M.D., of the Alaska Office of the State Medical Examiner, Anchorage, Alaska, on July 17, 1995. The results of the toxicological analysis were negative for alcohol and all screened drugs.

An autopsy and toxicological analysis were performed on the pilot of the Piper PA-18 by Dr. Norman H. Thompson, M.D., of the Alaska Office of the State Medical Examiner, Anchorage, Alaska, on July 18, 1995. The results of the toxicological analysis were negative for alcohol, positive for codeine (85 ng/ml) in blood, and positive to the presence of opiates in urine.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage from both aircraft was released to Floyd E. Steel, Chief, Bristol Bay Police Department, King Salmon, Alaska, on July 16, 1995.

SEE NARRATIVE FROM NTSB REPORT NO. ANC95FA104A

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