Pilot Stated That His Estimated Time Of Arrival Kept Changing
Location: Salish Sea, WA Accident Number: WPR21LA097
Date & Time: January 26, 2021, 16:40 Local Registration: N9114A
Aircraft: Cessna 170A Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal
On January 26, 2021 about 1640 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 170A airplane, N9114A, sustained substantial damage when it was involved in an accident near Port Angeles, Washington. The pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight.
The pilot initially departed from Kodiak, Alaska the day before the accident with a final planned destination of Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The day of the accident, the pilot refueled the airplane and departed from Ketchikan, Alaska about 1000. During the flight, the pilot was in contact with his mother sending numerous text messages. Around 1525 the pilot sent a text stating that there was a severe headwind and expressed his concerned about having enough fuel to complete the flight. About 15 minutes later, the pilot stated that his GPS indicated he had been airborne for 5.7 hours and had another 1.1 hours of flight time until reaching his destination (equating to a landing time of 1647). He estimated that with a fuel burn between 6 to 10 gallons per hour that the airplane could make it to Port Angeles, but that the headwinds were slowing the airspeed and it was taking him longer than expected to navigate around numerous clouds. Around 1615, the pilot stated that his estimated time of arrival kept changing on his GPS because of the fluctuating wind, turbulence, and cloud avoidance.
A review of the radar data revealed that the targets were on a southerly track, reaching the edge of the northly land mass at 1634. The radar hits continued south for about 5.4 nm at an altitude of about 1,200 ft. At 1638:06 the returns deviated from the southerly direction and were consistent with the airplane reversing course and heading north-northeast. The returns from the turn to the last hit indicated a decreasing airspeed and a gradual decent from 1,200 to 400 ft.
The radar hit the farthest south, was about 6 nm from land to the south and 4 nm from land to the north. The last radar return was 2.9 nm from the closet land. The pilot sent a picture to his mother about 1637 which showed a marine vessel towing a barge in the water below his location. The pilot broadcast a mayday call over the Port Angeles UNICOM frequency at 1638:47. He stated that he was out in the middle of the water and was ditching by a boat that was towing a barge.
The fuel system was comprised of two wing fuel tanks and the pilot had modified the airplane with a tank in the fuselage. The main left and right tanks each held 20 gals and the fuselage tank held between 10-15 gals.