Monday, March 6, 2017

Cessna R172K Hawk XP, N736AS: Fatal accident occurred March 05, 2017 in Nome, Alaska

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Anchorage, Alaska  

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Thomas J. Grainger:

NTSB Identification: ANC17FA018
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 05, 2017 in Nome, AK
Aircraft: CESSNA R172K, registration: N736AS
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 March 5, 2017, about 2223 Alaska standard time, a wheel-equipped Cessna 172K airplane, N736AS, sustained substantial damage during impact with sea ice in Norton Sound about 10 miles east of Nome, Alaska. The private pilot and sole occupant 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 instrument meteorological condition (IMC) prevailed at the destination. No flight plan was filed. The flight departed the Wasilla Airport, Wasilla, Alaska at 1710 destined for Nome City Field Airport (94Z), Nome.

During an interview with the National Transportations Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on March 7, the pilot's fiancé said that the pilot was going to visit friends in Nome and that he was time limited by his work schedule. She said that at about 1700 she witnessed him fueling the airplane and two fuel containers, for a total of 35.3 gallons, per the fuel company records. She said that the pilot flew this route often, maybe 20 times before, but usually in summer.

During an interview with the NTSB IIC on March 8, a friend of the pilot in Nome said that she was expecting him that night by 2130 and he was planning to land at Nome City Field. The airplane arrived in the Nome area at 2141 and she and the pilot texted back and forth for the remainder of the flight. Prior to making any approaches, the friend texted the weather to be "10 miles 600 over." The pilot texted back "Ok I think I can sneak in," then he proceeded to make four visual approaches to City Field runway 21, as well as circling maneuvers in the area. He texted "one more try" and after he couldn't land, he texted "one more ok" before his last attempt. At 2214 he texted "not happening" and departed the area. 

During an interview with the NTSB IIC on March 7, a witness who lives near City Airport saw the airplane making multiple approaches and depart to the east. He also heard a transmission on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) of 123.6 MHz that sounded like "no, no, no" sometime after the airplane departed the area. The concerned witness then listened on 121.5 MHz for an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal, but did not hear one.

The pilot's fiancé reported the airplane overdue at about 0530 on March 6. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an ALNOT (alert notice) at 0606 and an area wide airport and radio search was conducted. At about 0959 a Nome Search and Rescue crew located the airplane wreckage about 10 miles east of Nome, on sea ice, near Hastings Creek. The wreckage consisted of the entire airplane in a vertical nose down attitude. The Garmin GPSMAP 296 device was recovered and downloaded by the NTSB IIC. 

The Garmin GPS data indicates that the airplane took off from Wasilla at 1710 and made no enroute stops. The data shows an airplane track that included four approaches to Nome City Airport runway 21, some maneuvering in the area, then a departure to the east. The total GPS distance flown was 596 statute miles and total GPS time 5.3 hours. The last data point was at time 2223 and indicated the airplane at a groundspeed of 42 mph and 373 feet GPS altitude near the wreckage location.

According to the FAA Alaska Chart Supplement, the Nome City Field Airport has no lighting and is not plowed in winter. About one mile to the west is Nome Airport, which does have runway and approach lighting and is fully maintained.

The pilot held a current FAA Third Class Medical Certificate that stated the restriction "not valid for night flying or by color signal control." 

The Cessna 172K Pilot Operating Handbook indicates a maximum fuel capacity of 52 U.S. gallons and usable fuel of 49 U.S. gallons. The actual fuel quantity for this flight is unknown.

The closest weather reporting facility is Nome Airport, Nome, Alaska, about 11 miles west of the accident site. At 2204, an aviation special weather report (SPECI) from the Nome Airport was reporting in part: Wind calm; sky condition, overcast 400 feet; visibility, 10 statute miles; temperature -21 degrees C; dewpoint -22 degrees C; altimeter, 30.49 inHg. Official sunset was 1933.

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

Thomas J. Grainger

Thomas Joseph Grainger was born on June 24, 1988, in Salinas, Calif., and passed away suddenly on March 5, 2017, outside of Nome, Alaska. Born and raised in Central California, he graduated from Sacramento State University with a degree in business. He always dreamed about living in Alaska and drove here with his best friend, Marshall, in a beat-up old Ford Bronco, in the summer of 2010. He quickly settled into the Alaskan lifestyle, making many friends along the way. He found his love and future fiancee and family with his beloved girls: Kristina and her daughter, Hannah. He was widely known around Anchorage, Alaska, for his community involvement, including Fur Rondy. Tom's quick wit, incredible smile, giving heart and sense of humor were well-known. Tom is survived by his parents, Joe and Lori Grainger of Salinas; and his two sisters, Maggie and Brittney of San Francisco, Calif. He is also survived by his grandparents, Manuel and Laura Gularte of Salinas; and many aunts, uncles and cousins. He also leaves behind his loving fiancee, Kristina Roush; and her daughter, Hannah Craven of Palmer, Alaska; as well as countless friends and acquaintances he came to know as his Alaskan family. To say Tom will be greatly missed is an understatement. An Alaskan Celebration of Life, open to the public, is scheduled for Saturday, March 11, 2017. It will be from 2 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. at the Homewood Suites in the Klondike Glacier Bay Room, 101 West 48th Avenue in Anchorage. There will be time to share stories, pay respects and celebrate Tom. A memorial will follow in Salinas, Calif., on Sunday, March 19, 2017. Condolences may be sent to: Joe and Lori Grainger, 19667 Woodcrest Drive, Salinas, CA 93908. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Tom's name to your favorite charity . Arrangements are with Janssen Funeral Homes Inc.

ANCHORAGE –   Alaska Sate Troopers say a pilot was killed when his plane went down near Nome.

The pilot, identified as 28-year-old Wasilla resident Thomas Grainger, was flying from Wasilla to Nome, trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters wrote. The Cessna 172 was unable to land in Nome due to weather, and was later reported overdue on Monday morning around 5:40 a.m.

Grainger’s last communication was at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, according to Peters. Nearly 12 hours later, Nome search and rescue personnel found the aircraft at Hastings Creek, 10 miles east of Nome.

Grainger was confirmed dead at the scene, Peters said, noting that the state medical examiner’s office had been notified.

He was the only person aboard the plane, Peters confirmed. She said later his family has been notified of his death.

Troopers also notified the National Transportation Safety Board, which will conduct an investigation of the crash, according to Peters.

Attempts to reach the agency were not immediately successful.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesman Allen Kenitzer confirmed his agency was also involved in the crash investigation. 

Story and comments:

NOME, Alaska --   The Cessna 172 has no association with the Iditarod.

The Iditarod Trail Committee says that they do not have any planes associated with the race heading in that direction, as mushers will not arrive in Nome for more than a week.

Original Story - Monday, 3:07 p.m.

Nome Search and Rescue located a downed aircraft, at Hastings Creek, on Monday, around 10 a.m. The pilot was confirmed dead, after Alaska State Troopers responded to the scene.

Earlier today, at approximately 5:40 a.m., troopers were alerted to an overdue aircraft, flying from Wasilla to Nome.

The pilot's fiancé reported that the pilot could not land in Nome, due to bad weather, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Instead, he planned on returning to Wasilla.

The pilot left Wasilla on Sunday, at approximately 9:11 p.m, according to NTSB. And the pilot's last communication occurred around 10:30 p.m., according to AST.

At this time, reports say the pilot was the only occupant of the plane. And NTSB says this was not a commercial flight.

The pilot’s identify has not been released, because next of kin still needs to be notified.

NTSB says they will conduct an on scene detailed examination of the wreckage, as it lays east of Nome, on Tuesday.

The tail number of the orange and white Cessna 172 is N736AS. Anyone with any information of the incident is asked to contact NTSB at (202) 314-6290.


An aircraft reported overdue after departing from Wasilla Sunday was found crashed near Nome Monday, with its pilot and sole occupant dead, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Alaska State Troopers identified the pilot at 28-year-old Wasilla resident Thomas Grainger, whose family was told about the crash.

NTSB investigator Noreen Price said that the privately operated Cessna 172 was found crashed about 7 miles east of Nome. The plane had been on a flight from Wasilla to Nome Sunday evening, she said, and is believed to have crashed sometime after 10 p.m. that night.

"He texted his fiancee at 9:11 p.m. that he could not land due to weather," Price said.

Grainger's last communication came at 10:30 p.m., according to troopers.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said an alert for the overdue plane was issued at about 6 a.m. Monday. He said the pilot was reportedly flying under visual flight rules and hadn't filed a flight plan.

Nome Search and Rescue crews deployed Monday to find the plane, Price said, including two snowmachiners who headed east after the plane was last heard heading in that direction. The aircraft was discovered around 10 a.m.

The Iditarod Trail Committee said the plane didn't have any connection with the 1,000-mile race to Nome, which began Monday in Fairbanks.

Both the NTSB and the FAA will be investigating the crash, Price said.


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