GENERAL INFORMATION FOR NTSB REPORT: ANC00FA082
Data Source NTSB AVIATION ACCIDENT/INCIDENT DATABASE
NTSB Report Nbr ANC00FA082
Event Id 20001212X21348
Local Date 07/03/2000
Local Time 1832
State AK
City WHITTIER
Event Type ACCIDENT
Injury Severity FATAL
Record Status
Mid Air Collision NO
Event Location OFF AIRPORT/AIRSTRIP

WEATHER INFORMATION
Weather Briefing Complete UNKNOWN
Basic Weather Conditions VISUAL METEOROLOGICAL COND
Light Condition DAY
Cloud Condition UNKNOWN
Cloud Type NONE
Visibility (sm) 50
Wind Condition Flag V

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION
Aircraft 1
Type of Operation PART 91: GENERAL AVIATION
Registration Number N862SP
Aircraft Make CESSNA
Aircraft Model 172
Aircraft Series S
Aircraft Damage DESTROYED
Aircraft Fire NONE
Aircraft Explosion NONE
Aircraft Type AIRPLANE
Aircraft Homebuilt UNKNOWN
Phase of Flight UNDEFINED
Aircraft Use PERSONAL
Flight Plan Filed VFR
Operator Name TAKE FLIGHT ALASKA INC
Operator Doing Business As TAKE FLIGHT ALASKA
Owner Name Dilbert Dunham
Number of Seats 4
Number of Engines 1
ELT Installed YES
ELT Operated UNKNOWN
Departure Airport Id MRI
Departure City ANCHORAGE
Departure State ALASKA
Last Departure Point NO
Destination Airport Id MDO
Destination City MIDDLETON IS.
Destination State ALASKA
Air Carrier Operating Certificates NO
Air Carrier Other Operating Certificates UNKNOWN
Cert Max Gross Wgt 2550

ENGINE INFORMATION

Aircraft 1 - Engine : #1
Engine Manufactuer Lycoming
Engine Model IO-360-L2A
Engine Horsepower 180
Engine Thrust HP
Carb/Injection CARBURETOR
Propeller Type FIXED PITCH

INJURY INFORMATION
Injury Summary for Aircraft 1
Fatal Serious Minor None
Crew 0 0 0 0
Pass 0 0 0 0
Total 1 0 0 0
Sequence of Events for Aircraft 1
Occurrence #1
IN FLIGHT COLLISION WITH TERRAIN/WATER
Phase of Operation: DESCENT

Events Sequence for Occurrence #1 of Aircraft 1
Event Seq # Event Group Code Subject Modifier Personnel Cause/Factor
1 2 SUICIDE PERFORMED PILOT IN COMMAND CAUSE




AIRCRAFT 1 PRELIMINARY REPORT


HISTORY OF THE FLIGHT On July 3, 2000, about 1832 Alaska daylight time, a wheel-equipped Cessna 172S airplane, N862SP, was destroyed when the airplane collided with ocean water about 10 miles east of Whittier, Alaska, at 60 degrees, 48 minutes north latitude, 148 degrees, 15 minutes west longitude. The airplane was operated by Take Flight Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska, and was rented by the pilot. The certificated private pilot, the sole occupant, received fatal injuries. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) personal flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a VFR flight plan was filed. The flight originated at the Merrill Field Airport, Anchorage, about 1630, and the flight-planned route was to Whittier and Middleton Island, Alaska, and return to Anchorage. During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge on July 3, the chief flight instructor for the operator reported that the pilot rented the airplane, with an anticipated return time of 1900. He added that the pilot failed to file the required "in-house flight plan" prior to his departure. At 1725, a witness aboard a boat in the area of Culross Passage, about 15 miles east of Whittier, observed the accident airplane flying very low over the water. He said that the wings were rocking back and forth, with the wingtips almost touching the water. In a written statement to the NTSB, he wrote, in part: "...The aircraft was no more than 10 feet off the water. The aircraft then corrected again and the right wing lifted for him to bank left. It was then on a collision course for the cabin and pilothouse of the boat. I dropped the throttles and the boat settled in the water. The body of the aircraft passed between the bow anchor and the pilothouse window." He added that after the airplane flew over his boat, it continued southbound, and out of sight. He said that while listening to the marine radio, he heard other boats in the area report similar experiences. At 1832, a passing airplane received a distress call from the pilot stating that he had a loss of engine power, and that he was going down in the vicinity of Passage Canal and Wells Passage. At 1847, the U.S. Coast Guard issued an urgent marine information broadcast (UMIB) on channel 16 marine band VHF radio, requesting assistance in locating the airplane. About 1937, a boat involved in the search reported floating debris in the area of Pt. Pigot. A U.S. Coast Guard HH-60J helicopter was dispatched to the area, recovered the pilot's floating body, and transported him to an Anchorage hospital. The airplane sank in ocean waters estimated to be between 1,200 and 1,500 feet deep. No attempt has been made to recover the airplane wreckage. CREW INFORMATION No personal flight records were located for the pilot and the aeronautical experience listed on page 3 of this report was obtained from Take Flight Alaska, and a review of the airmen Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records on file in the Airman and Medical Records Center located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. On the pilot's application for medical certificate, dated March 2, 1999, the pilot indicated that his total aeronautical experience consisted of 200 hours, of which no flight time was accrued in the previous 6 months. The pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, and instrument airplane ratings. The most recent second-class medical certificate was issued to the pilot on March 2, 1999, and contained no limitations. On June 11, 1997, the pilot applied for a third class medical certificate. In section "V" of the application for airman medical and student certificate, FAA form number 8500-8, the accident pilot checked "Yes," indicating that he had been convicted on charges of driving while intoxicated. In the explanations block, the pilot wrote: "One in 1983 (D.W.I) and one in 1996 (D.W.I.) for a total of two D.W.I's in a thirteen year period. One felony for arson in 1990." The pilot was then issued a third class medical certificate, with no limitations. In addition, the aviation medical examiner (AME) that issued the pilot a third class medical certificate forwarded a copy of the medical application to the Federal Aviation Administration's Regional Flight Surgeon, Alaska Region. On July 1, 1997, the regional flight surgeon, Alaska Region, sent a letter to the pilot requesting the following additional information: (1) Copies of all records associated with the DWI offenses. (2) Description of the pilot's alcohol use and of the circumstances surrounding the offenses. (3) Provide a copy of his current driver's license. The pilot provided information as requested on July 14, 1997. On November 24, 1997, the regional flight surgeon, Alaska Region, after reviewing the requested information, sent the pilot a letter stating his third class medical certificate was valid. On December 15, 1997, the regional flight surgeon's office, during a routine follow-up check of Department of Motor Vehicle records, discovered a third, and previously undisclosed, DWI charge. The charge was ultimately pled down to a lesser charge. On March 20, 1998, the regional flight surgeon, Alaska Region, again sent a letter to the pilot requesting the following information, mandating that it be received no later than April 3, 1998: (1) Copies of all records associated with the DWI offences. (2) Copies of all records of treatment for substance problem, including alcohol screening assessments, and any diagnoses made. (3) A letter from the pilot, in his own words, describing the progress and status of abstinence, duration of abstinence, and the severity and duration of his substance abuse. On April 4, 1998, the pilot visited the regional flight surgeon in his Anchorage office. The pilot provided the flight surgeon with the requested information. In addition, the pilot provided letters from friends, Alcoholics Anonymous sponsors, etc., attesting to his abstinence from alcohol, and continued sobriety. The pilot requested to be reconsidered for a medical certificate under special issuance procedures 14CFR Part 67.409, adding that he had been sober for 15 months. Prior to leaving the flight surgeon's office, the pilot surrendered his third class medical certificate, pending further review. On March 2, 1999, the pilot obtained a first class physical examination, and subsequently applied for a first class medical certificate. On the day of the examination, the aviation medical examiner (AME) that preformed the physical examination of the pilot sent a letter to the regional flight surgeon, Alaska Region, stating that the pilot was physically qualified for a first class airman medical certificate. He added that the pilot related that he had not partaken of any alcohol products since December 1996. The AME then deferred the issuance of the pilot's first class medical certificate to the office of the regional flight surgeon, Alaska Region. On March 10, 1999, the regional flight surgeon, Alaska Region, wrote a letter to the pilot stating: "Our review of your medical records, including data recently received, has established that you are eligible for a first class airman medical certificate. Due to your prior history of substance abuse and your 2 years of sobriety, your medical certificate has been issued without limitations." AIRCRAFT INFORMATION The accident airplane had accumulated an estimated total time of 503.3 hours. The airplane was maintained under an FAA approved, Cessna phase card inspection program, in accordance with FAR 91.409. Examination of the maintenance records revealed the most recent phase card inspection of the engine and airframe was on June 30, 2000, 7.9 hours before the accident. METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION The closest official weather observation station is Anchorage, which is located about 55 nautical miles northwest of the accident site. On July 3, 2000, at 1853, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting in part: Wind, 300 degrees (magnetic) at 7 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; clouds, few at 3,500 feet, 8,500 feet scattered, 2,500 feet scattered, temperature, 63 degrees F; dew point, 51 degrees F; altimeter, 30.06 inHg. Valdez, Alaska, is located about 70 miles northeast of the accident site. At 1835, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting in part: Wind, 270 degrees (magnetic) at 12 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; clouds, few at 3,000 feet, 2,000 feet scattered, temperature, 63 degrees F; dew point, 46 degrees F; altimeter, 30.07 inHg. COMMUNICATIONS A review of telephone conversation tapes, and air-ground radio communications tapes maintained by the FAA at the Kenai, Alaska Flight Service Station (FSS), revealed that the pilot successfully communicated with the positions of Pre-Flight Eight, and In-Flight One, and In-Flight Two, at Kenai. Once the airplane departed Merrill Field, the pilot activated his VFR flight plan. At 1818, a passing Malaysian Airlines, Boeing 747 relayed a message from the pilot to the Kenai FSS. He stated: "Kenai radio, Malaysian ninety-three in relay of eight six two sierra papa is out of power, out of power between ah wells passage and passage canal, is out of power, and he's going down..." A transcript of all communications between the airplane, Kenai FSS, and the Malaysian Airlines 747 is included in this report. MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION A postmortem examination of the pilot was conducted under the authority of the Alaska State Medical Examiner, 5700 E. Tudor, Anchorage, Alaska, on July 5, 2000. The cause of death for the pilot was attributed to multiple impact injuries, and the manner of death as suicide. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Civil Aero medical Institute (CAMI) conducted a toxicological examination on October 3, 2000. The examination revealed the presence of the following agents in the blood: Ethanol (42 mg/dL, mg/hg) Acetaldehyde (3 mg/dL, mg/hg) Benzoylecgonine (0.113 ug/ml, ug,g) Diazepam (0.057 ug/ml, ug/g) Nordiazepam (0.076 ug/ml, ug/g) Oxazepam (detected in blood) Temazepam (0.143 ug/ml, ug/g Cocaine (detected in blood) The following agents were found in the liver tissue: Ethanol (27 mg/dL, mg/hg) Acetaldehyde (50 mg/dL, mg/hg) Benzoylecgonine (0.215 ug/ml, ug,g) Cocaethylene (0.031 ug/Ml, ug/g) Diazepam (1.011 ug/ml, ug/g) Nordiazepam (1.504 ug/ml, ug/g) Oxazepam (0.492 ug/ml, ug/g Temazepam (0.758 ug/ml, ug/g The following agents were found in the lung tissue: Ethanol (69 mg/dL, mg/hg) Acetaldehyde (3 mg/dL, mg/hg) The following agents were found in the kidney tissue: Ethanol (116 mg/dL, mg/hg) The following agents were found in the spleen tissue: Ethanol (98 mg/dL, mg/hg) Acetaldehyde (4 mg/dL, mg/hg) The following agents were found in the muscle tissue: Ethanol (105 mg/dL, mg/hg) The following agents were found in the heart tissue: Ethanol (105 mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol was detected in the pilot's blood, liver, lung, kidney, spleen, muscle, and heart. In addition, cocaine was detected, but unquantified, in the pilot's blood. Benzoylecgonine is an inactive metabolite of cocaine, and cocaethylene is a substance that is formed only when cocaine and ethanol are simultaneously present. Diazepam was detected in the blood, and present in the liver. Diazepam is a prescription tranquilizer known commonly by the trade name Valium. Nordiazepam, Temazepam, and Oxazepam are active metabolites of Diazepam. Temazepam is also available separately as a prescription sleeping aid often known by the trade name Restoil. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge on July 5, an Anchorage police officer reported that the deceased pilot was a suspect in a recent arson attempt, and that a warrant for his arrest had been issued. He added that in the early morning hours of July 3, the same day that the pilot rented the airplane, officers with the Anchorage Police Department impounded the pilot's car. According to court findings from 1991, the pilot was convicted of first-degree arson in connection with a local area restaurant fire. The pilot served about 4 years in a State of Alaska, Department of Corrections facility, and was released in May of 1995. During an interview with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge on July 6, a friend of the pilot stated that about 1515, on the day of the accident, he received a telephone call from the pilot. The friend related that during the course of the conversation, the pilot said that he was going on a trip, and asked the friend for a ride to the airport since his own car was not available. The friend agreed to drive to the pilot's apartment and take him to the airport. The friend added that during the drive to the airport the accident pilot appeared restless, agitated, and depressed. The friend related that in his opinion, the accident pilot "was again using," indicating that the pilot was under the influence of one, or more controlled substances. As the drive to the airport progressed, the pilot removed an envelope from his coat pocket, along with several packages of cigarettes, and placed them in the glove compartment of the friend's car. The pilot then threatened his friend with bodily harm if he looked at the note before he left on his trip. After arriving at the flight school, while still in the parking lot, the accident pilot got out of the car and told his friend: "just mind your own business, because its my life." After the pilot entered the office of the flight school, the pilot's friend opened the envelope that the pilot had left in the glove compartment, and found two documents. The first document was a power of attorney, which in short, transferred all owned property to the pilot's brother. The second document was a letter titled: "Message in a Bottle."

AIRCRAFT 1 FINAL REPORT


A private pilot departed from Merrill Field, Anchorage, Alaska, in a rented, wheel-equipped airplane. Prior to his departure, the pilot left an envelope in a friend's car, telling the friend not to open it until after the pilot had departed. The envelope contained a power of attorney, transferring all of the pilot's property to his brother, and a letter entitled "Message in a Bottle." About one hour after the airplane departed from the flight school, a witness aboard a boat saw the accident airplane flying very low over the water. The witness said that the wings were rocking back and forth, with the wingtips almost touching the water. He added that the airplane entered a collision course with his boat, which required his abrupt and evasive action to avoid being struck by the airplane. Numerous other witnesses in the area reported similar encounters with the same airplane. About one hour later, a passing airplane received a distress call from the accident airplane pilot stating the he had a loss of engine power, and that he was going down. The U.S. Coast Guard recovered the pilot's floating body. The airplane sank in deep ocean waters. Toxicology tests revealed Alcohol, Cocaine, and Valium in the pilot's blood, muscles, and organ tissue. The postmortem examination ruled the cause of death as a suicide. The pilot had a history of substance abuse, had previously been convicted of first-degree arson, and was being sought by local police for a recent arson.

AIRCRAFT 1 CAUSE REPORT


Suicide.


END REPORT