NTSB Identification: ANC04LA098
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, August 27, 2004 in McGrath, AK
Aircraft: de Havilland DHC-3, registration: N197TT
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On August 27, 2004, about 1630 Alaska daylight time, a tundra tire-equipped de Havilland DHC-3 airplane, N197TT, was destroyed by impact and postimpact fire when it collided with trees and mountainous terrain, about 35 miles west of McGrath, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country business flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The airplane was operated by Exousia Inc., dba Mavrik Aire, Kenai, Alaska, as a flight of two airplanes, to transport hunting camp supplies from Kenai, Alaska, to Kotzebue, Alaska. The airline transport certificated pilot, seated in the left front seat, received serious injuries. A pilot-rated passenger, seated in the right front seat, received fatal injuries, and a passenger seated behind the pilot received minor injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions consisting of mist, fog, and smoke, prevailed in the area of the accident. The flight originated at the McGrath Airport about 1600. No flight plan was filed, nor was one required.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) personnel notified the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on August 27 that the accident airplane was overdue. The pilot of the first airplane in the flight of two reported to the FAA that the intended route of flight was from Kenai, Alaska, to Port Alsworth, Alaska, to McGrath, and then to Unalakleet, Alaska, Buckland, Alaska, and then to Kotzebue. When the accident airplane did not arrive in Kotzebue, search and rescue personnel were notified. Due to an extensive area of low visibility along the route of flight, an active search did not begin until August 29. Search personnel located the airplane on August 29, about 1130, and the survivors were transported to Anchorage, Alaska.

The NTSB IIC interviewed the rear seat passenger on August 29, in Anchorage. He reported that the accident airplane departed McGrath, headed for Unalakleet, and was flying about 500 to 1,000 feet above the ground because of smoke and fog. He estimated the visibility at takeoff was about 1 mile. About 30 minutes after departure, the airplane was flying over mountainous terrain, and appeared to be following a canyon. The passenger said that the visibility decreased due to fog. He said that the airplane's throw-over control yoke was positioned in front of the right seat passenger when suddenly a mountain ridge appeared in front of the airplane. The pilot repositioned the control yoke in front of the left seat, banked the airplane to the left, and added engine power. Within a few seconds, the passenger indicated that he felt the airplane collide with several trees and then descend to the ground. The airplane came to rest upright with extensive wing and fuselage damage. The passenger said he then observed a fire near the front of the airplane. He and the pilot exited the airplane, but he returned to pull the right seat passenger out of the airplane. A fire then consumed the wreckage.

On August 27, 2004, at 1553, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) at McGrath was reporting in part: Wind, 330 degrees (true) at 7 knots; visibility, 4 statute miles in mist and smoke; clouds and sky condition, few at 500 feet, 1,400 feet scattered, 2,700 feet overcast; temperature, 48 degrees F; dew point, 43 degrees F; altimeter, 29.97 inHg.