Friday, September 11, 2015

Over $18,000 Raised for family of Knik Arm plane crash victim: Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, N3675P

Seth Fairbanks.

More than $18,000 has been raised for the daughters of Seth Fairbanks, the pilot from Bethel, who died after a plane crash in early August.

After learning of her friend’s death, Bethel resident Nikki Corbett hosted an online auction on Facebook. The funds went to a trust fund for Seth Fairbanks’ twin daughters.

“When something like this happens everyone kind of comes together and helps the families,” Corbett said. “It’s been amazing outpour of support.”

Corbett was out of town when she heard about the accident but still felt a call to action. She got the “ok” and began planning.

“I didn’t think it would turn out to be so big. I was only thinking there would be about 30 items because that’s how it started out. I think it ended up being over 50, 60 items.”

Donation items included everything from handmade children’s ware and pottery to canned salmon and handcrafted artwork. Donations came mostly from the Bethel region and Anchorage area, with some items coming as far as Arizona.

“Now’s the fun part where we have to get everything ready and process it and send it out,” Corbett said.

Corbett and Fairbanks’ mother will cover the cost of shipping and hope to begin sending items out soon.

Fairbanks, who was 29 and living in McGrath, died with passenger Anthony Hooper after his plane crashed in the Knik Arm River.  He was to Anchorage for his sister’s wedding reception.

“I’ve just known him since grade school. We were great friends through high school,” Corbett said. “It was amazing to see him evovle from when his daughters were first born. He was a great dad.”

In an interview with KTVA in early August, the pilot’s father, Grant Fairbanks, described his son as happy-go-lucky and well liked.


NTSB Identification: ANC15FA062
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, August 06, 2015 in Chugiak, AK
Aircraft: PIPER PA 18-150, registration: N3675P
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 6, 2015, about 2350 Alaska daylight time, a wheel-equipped Piper PA-18-150 airplane, N3675P, sustained substantial damage during impact with the ocean waters of Knik Arm about 4 miles northwest of Chugiak, Alaska. The private pilot and one passenger are presumed to have received fatal injuries. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, the pilot as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country personal flight under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, when the accident occurred. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed along the route of flight, and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed the McGrath Airport, McGrath, Alaska, at 2111, en route to the Birchwood Airport, Chugiak.

A postaccident review of archived Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) radio communication recordings revealed that at 2109, the pilot reported taxiing for departure from the McGrath Airport. At 2111, he reporting taking off from runway 16 at the McGrath Airport. No further radio communications were received from the airplane. 

At 2354, a 911 call was received by the Alaska State Troopers from the pilot, stating that he had just crashed in the waters of Knik Arm, and was standing on top of his airplane. He requested rescue, and stated that he was too far from shore to swim. At 0003, the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center received notification of the accident and air assets were on scene searching at 0016. The search was conducted by personnel from the Alaska Air National Guard, U.S. Air Force, Alaska State Troopers and Civil Air Patrol, with support from the U.S. Coast Guard.

On August 7, about 0610, the airplane was located about 1.8 miles northwest of the Birchwood Airport. The airplane was inverted and mostly submerged under the salt water with the bottom of the fuselage, wing strut attach points, landing gear, and a portion of the propeller protruding above the water. The occupants were not located with the airplane, and the official search continued through August 8 before being suspended. The two occupants are still missing and presumed deceased.

The area the airplane was located in was a portion of the Knik Arm consisting of fast moving salt water. The several rivers that terminate at the inlet are glacier fed, and visibility in the water is often less than 1 foot due to turbidity. The Knik Arm is an area with strong tidal influence, and strong currents.

On August 8, about 1045, the airplane was extracted from the water by helicopter. Due to the amount of water and organic material contained within the airplane after being submerged through several tide cycles, the airframe structure could not support the additional weight. Both wings fractured at the forward spar attach points and folded aft. The fuselage fractured about 3 feet forward of the horizontal stabilizer and remained attached by the rudder and elevator control cables.

A Garmin 196 handheld GPS was still mounted on the instrument panel and all cables were still attached. The unit was removed and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Laboratory in Washington, D.C. for download.

The closest weather reporting facility is Birchwood Airport, Chugiak, about 2 miles southeast of the accident site. At 2336, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) from the Birchwood Airport was reporting in part: wind from 120 degrees at 3 knots; sky condition, clear; visibility, 10 statute miles; temperature 63 degrees F; dewpoint 52 degrees F; altimeter, 29.85 inHg.

A detailed wreckage and engine examination is pending. The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming O-320 series engine.

 Helicopter brings crashed Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub plane to Birchwood Airport.

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