Serial Number






Year of Manufacture



 Piston - R1340


 35 miles E of Nikolai, AK




 Grasshopper Aviation



Contact / Link




Sean Rossiter 'Otter & Twin Otter'
Aviation Safety Network

NTSB Report

 This aircraft was used to trial a Garrett AiResearch TPE 331 Turbo-Prop engine, but the trials failed and the original R1340 was reinstalled.
28th December 2002 whilst positioning to Wasilla Airport, AK. No fatalities.

NTSB Identification: ANC03LA021
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred
Saturday, December 28, 2002 in Nikolai, AK
Aircraft: de Havilland DHC-3, registration: N3904
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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 December 28, 2002, about 1230 Alaska standard time, a de Havilland DHC-3 (Otter) airplane, N3904, sustained substantial damage during an in-flight collision with trees during an attempted emergency landing and subsequent go-around, at a private airstrip, located about 35 miles east of Nikolai, Alaska. The pilot reported a partial flight control malfunction just after takeoff, and was attempting to return to the departure airstrip. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country positioning flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The airplane was owned by Chinook Air, LLC, and operated by Grasshopper Aviation, Wasilla, Alaska. The commercial certificated pilot, and the one passenger aboard, were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and VFR company flight following procedures were in effect. The flight originated at the accident airstrip, about 1225, and was en route to the Wasilla Airport, Wasilla, Alaska.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge on December 28, the pilot said that the purpose of the flight was to deliver a load of fuel oil to a remote lodge located about 35 miles east of Nikolai. He said that the outbound flight and arrival at the lodge's private airstrip were uneventful, with no mechanical anomalies noted. He added that the airplane remained on the ground for about 45 minutes while the fuel oil was unloaded, and that the airplane was empty for the return flight to Wasilla.

The pilot reported that just after an uneventful westerly takeoff from the 1,000 foot, by 30 foot snow-covered airstrip, as the airplane climbed to about 800 feet above the ground and the airspeed increased to about 55 knots, he heard a very loud bang, followed by a loud rattling noise. The pilot said that as he was attempting to turn the airplane around and return to the departure airstrip, he experienced considerable difficulty in maintaining longitudinal directional control using the airplane's rudder pedals. Using a combination of aileron control, and the remaining amount of rudder control, he was able to manoeuvre the airplane for an easterly landing on the airstrip. The pilot said that as the airplane passed over the approach end of the airstrip, the airplane drifted to the right, and he initiated a go-around. The airplane subsequently collided with a stand of trees on the south side of the airstrip, and sustained substantial damage to the wings, fuselage, and empennage.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness inspector, Anchorage Flight Standards District Office, will be travelling to the accident scene as soon as weather and logistical conditions will allow, to examine the airplane before recovery efforts are started.