A Substantial Amount Of Cargo Was Being Transported Within The Left Float Locker

Location: Fairbanks, AK Accident Number: ANC23FA001
Date & Time: October 5, 2022, 17:58 Local Registration: N217C
Aircraft: Cessna A185F Injuries: 1 Fatal

Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On October 5, 2022, about 1758 Alaska daylight time, a Cessna A185F airplane, N217C sustained damage when it was involved in an accident at the Chena Marina Airport Float Pond (AK28), Fairbanks, Alaska. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. 

According to witnesses, just before the accident, the pilot was seen loading the airplane with a sundry of cargo items, but not limited to, fishing gear, various sets of hip waders, filled fuel jugs, backpacks, a generator, and camping gear. Once the airplane reached the end of the float pond, as the pilot started his takeoff run, witnesses reported that the airplane was unable to get on step, so the pilot aborted the initial takeoff attempt. He then turned the airplane around and began back-taxiing for another takeoff attempt.

One witness, located next to the waterway, observed the airplane’s attempted takeoff, and watched the airplane back taxi for another attempt. The witness reported that during the initial take off run, the airplane’s engine appeared to be operating at full power. He noted that after the airplane turned around and began to back-taxi, the airplane’s attitude was nose low in the water, and the floats were almost completely submerged. He added that it appeared that the pilot was using an unusually high-power setting for taxi. He then heard the engine power decrease and witnessed the airplane slowly nose down, followed by a momentary increase in engine power, and the airplane subsequently rolled slightly to the left, then nosed over, and the cabin of the airplane sank as the airplane became inverted.

Numerous good Samaritans and first responders attempted to free the pilot trapped inside the submerged airplane, but unrestrained cargo in the cabin shifted forward during the event sequence and rescuers were unable to free the pilot from the cockpit of the inverted, submerged airplane.

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on scene wreckage examination found no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

The NTSB on scene examination of the accident airplane’s floats revealed a substantial amount of cargo was being transported within the left float locker. Additionally, two unplugged holes were found under each front float bumper.

The accident airplane was equipped with a set of EDO 3430 floats.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov