Thursday, December 8, 2016

Bellanca 7GCBC, N88452: Fatal accident occurred December 07, 2016 in Fairbanks, Alaska

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Fairbanks FSDO-01

NTSB Identification: ANC17FA009
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 07, 2016 in Fairbanks, AK
Aircraft: BELLANCA 7GCBC, registration: N88452
Injuries: 1 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 December 7, 2016, about 1043 Alaska standard time, a tail wheel, ski-equipped Bellanca Citabria 7GCBC airplane, N88452, was substantially damaged after impacting snow-covered terrain about 17 miles southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska. The certificated airline transport pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to the pilot and operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) personal flight conducted under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. A VFR flight plan was filed and activated. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight departed Chena Marina Airport, Fairbanks at 1026 destined for the Tanana Flats southern training area.

During an interview with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on December 9, the maintenance technician who recently worked on the airplane said that the pilot was performing a post-maintenance test flight for recently installed Micro Vortex Generators. He also said that he installed Landis 2000A penetration skis, a new throttle cable and a new alternator prior to the accident flight. The transponder was removed for repair prior to the accident flight.

A postaccident review of archived Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) radio communication recordings revealed that at 1026, the pilot departed Chena Marina Airport destined for the "southern working area," which is the common terminology for the Tanana Flats area located south of Fairbanks. At 1031 the pilot requested that Fairbanks tower activate his VFR flight plan. The last transmission from the pilot was a few minutes later when he asked if the restricted airspace R-2211 was hot, and tower reported it "cold." 

At about 1310, two U.S. Army CH-47 helicopters from the 1-52d Aviation Regiment heard a faint Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) beacon signal on VHF Guard, 121.5 Mhz. Shortly thereafter, a crew member visually identified the wreckage and one of the helicopters landed nearby to assist. Three soldiers went to the wreckage and discovered one occupant with fatal injuries. According to FAA records, Fairbanks tower control was notified at 1318. 

On December 9, the NTSB IIC, together with another NTSB investigator, two FAA safety inspectors, and two Alaska State Troopers, flew via helicopter to the wreckage site to conduct an accident investigation and recover the pilot's remains. 

The airplane was located about seven miles south of Clear Creek Butte, in an open area of snow covered-tundra that consisted of about 6 inches of snow with long grass and scrub brush protrusions among small groves of black spruce trees. All of the airplane's major components were found at the main wreckage site.

The Garmin 296 Global Positioning System (GPS) was recovered from the scene and sent to the NTSB Recorder Laboratory for data extraction. Preliminary post-departure data indicates that the airplane performed three full turns at various altitudes between 1,500 feet to 1,700 feet, followed by a long descending flight path to the southeast that included ground speeds at 26 knots at about 400 feet above the ground with some acceleration prior to ground impact. Headings during the final descent started at about 128 degrees and varied to 157 degrees. The GPS data indicates that motion ceased after time 1044. This data is preliminary and will continue to be evaluated.

On December 10, the airplane's wreckage was recovered, by helicopter, and transported to a secure hangar facility in Fairbanks. 

On December 13 and 14, with all investigative party members present, a wreckage layout and examination was completed, and additional component testing is pending. 

The closest weather reporting facility is at the Fairbanks International Airport, approximately 17 miles northeast the accident site. At 0953, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) was reporting, in part: wind 350 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition clear; temperature -26 degrees F; dew point -31 degrees F; altimeter, 30.70 inHG. Sunrise was at time 1037.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Former state Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Fairbanks died December 7, 2016 in a plane crash 17 miles southeast of Fairbanks.

FAIRBANKS — Former Republican state Rep. Mike Kelly, of Fairbanks, died in a plane crash at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7, his wife said.

Kelly, 74, had a long public presence in the Interior that included time on the University of Alaska Board of Regents, nearly two decades leading Golden Valley Electric Association, and work with many Fairbanks area civic organizations.

Kelly, the brother of Republican Sen. Pete Kelly, of Fairbanks, served in the Legislature from 2004-2010. He represented the district that at the time included Farmers Loop, the Goldstream Valley, Fox and Two Rivers.

The plane crashed 17 miles southeast of Fairbanks on Fort Wainwright land and carried one person, according to Clint Johnson, chief of the Alaska office of the National Transportation Safety Board.

A military helicopter was flying in the area when the crash occurred. The crew heard the downed aircraft’s emergency locator beacon and responded to the crash. Military personnel confirmed Kelly was deceased.

Alaska State Troopers stated the plane is an American Champion Citabria, a two-seater.

Kelly’s wife, Cherie Kelly, said troopers will go to the scene today, Dec. 8,  with NTSB investigators. She said the plane had been repaired recently but did not provide details.

She said her husband’s body will be flown to Anchorage before being returned to Fairbanks.

Before entering the Legislature, Kelly was president and CEO of the GVEA electric utility for 17 years, retiring in 2000. He had been with GVEA, the electric utility cooperative serving the Fairbanks region, for 33 years.

A News-Miner campaign story from 2010 stated Kelly earned his multiengine and Airline Transport Pilot ratings after retiring from GVEA and he spent two years flying for Tanana Air Service before deciding to run for state House.

He was a member of the University of Alaska Board of Regents from 1991-99, serving two years as board president.

Kelly grew up in Fairbanks and graduated from Monroe Catholic Jr./Sr. High School and the University of Alaska, where he majored in business management, according to a biography on the website of the Republican Party of Alaska posted during Kelly’s time in the Legislature. The biography notes he had received the Business Leader of the Year Award from the UAF Associated Students of Business and was recognized as Distinguished Alum by the Alumni Association.

Kelly served on numerous boards in Fairbanks over the years, including the board of the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Foundation and the University of Alaska Foundation. He was a past chairman of the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

In the Legislature, Kelly was as a strong personality. He gained much attention for his effort to phase out pension-style retirements for public employees, something that attracted fierce opposition from organized labor, which targeted him for defeat. He lost to Democrat Bob Miller in November 2010.

News of Kelly’s death spread quickly across Fairbanks on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 7, leaving many of the well-liked legislator’s friends and acquaintances stunned and saddened.

Many of those were in attendance of the annual Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizens Award Banquet at the Westmark Hotel, which Mike Kelly was planning to attend. The news spread in hushed whispers through the banquet hall avoid casting a cloud over the annual fundraiser for an organization Kelly had been so involved with.

Some of those who heard of his death were shocked into tears and others were simply left speechless.

Jeff Cook, president of the Fairbanks Hospital Foundation’s board, on which Kelly currently served, remembered Kelly fondly in a short speech at the end of the night.

“We are grateful for Mike Kelly, for all he’s done for this community, for his great service to the hospital we will honor him, we extend our sincere sympathy to his family and friends,” he said.

Republican leaders of the Alaska House issued statements praising Kelly.

“I am deeply saddened by the news of Mike’s sudden passing,” House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, said. “I had the privilege of serving with him in the House for six years. He worked hard for Alaska and even harder for Fairbanks. He was a man of integrity and will be missed by many. I’d just like to ask that we keep his family in our thoughts and prayers during these trying times. We’ll miss you Mike.”

House Majority Leader Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, said Kelly helped her when she was a freshman lawmaker.

“Mike was a great mentor to me as a freshman legislator. He showed me and many new legislators the ropes of how the state operates. He was a tireless advocate for Fairbanks while in the House and was loved by his colleagues. He would light up a room with his great sense of humor — something that we missed when he left the House. Alaska lost a true statesman today.”


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