Friday, July 12, 2019

Piper PA-24-180 Comanche, N5840P: Fatal accident occurred July 11, 2019 near Ketchikan International Airport (PAKT), Alaska

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Juneau, Alaska

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: Ketchikan, AK
Accident Number: ANC19FA033
Date & Time: 07/11/2019, 1419 AKD
Registration: N5840P
Aircraft: Piper PA 24-180
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On July 11, 2019, about 1419 Alaska daylight time, a Piper PA-24-180 airplane, N5840P, sustained substantial damage after impacting terrain during a visual approach about 4 miles south of Ketchikan International Airport, (KTN) Ketchikan, Alaska. The airline transport pilot sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was registered to the Law Offices of Michael P Nash PC and operated by the pilot, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal visual flight rules (VFR) flight. Marginal visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the destination and no flight plan had been filed. The flight departed Friday Harbor Airport (FHR), Friday Harbor, Washington, about 1010 Alaska daylight time.

A family member of the pilot stated that the purpose of the flight was to return the airplane home to the Wrangell Airport (WRG), Wrangell, Alaska, after the airplane's annual inspection at FHR. The pilot flew this route often and intended to stop at KTN to purchase their less expensive fuel before continuing onto WRG. On the morning of the flight, the pilot told his family that the forecast weather for KTN "wasn't looking good," and he intended to fly around Ketchikan and continue onto WRG if the weather in KTN was not good upon his arrival. He stated that he had 6 hours of fuel onboard and his expected time of arrival was 1445. The flight from FHR to KTN is about 522 nautical miles (nm), and WRG is about 70 nm further.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Ketchikan Flight Service Station (KTN FSS) report, about 1411 the pilot called KTN FSS 10 miles southeast of KTN with the current Automatic Flight Information Service (AFIS) weather Lima. He stated he intended on entering a right downwind for KTN runway 11. About 5 minutes later, the flight crew of an inbound Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 contacted KTN FSS with intentions to enter a left downwind for KTN runway 11. The accident pilot then reported that he "was hung up" and could not enter a right downwind but would wait for traffic to clear prior to entering a left downwind. There were no further communications received by the pilot. KTN FSS personnel attempted to contact the accident airplane on the radio and after no response was heard they notified local search and rescue units. The Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad, Ketchikan Police, Ketchikan Alaska State Troopers, US Coast Guard and local operators searched for the missing airplane until about 1630 when the wreckage was located.

A preliminary review of archived FAA radar and Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADSB) data revealed that the airplane flew primarily a direct route to the KTN terminal area. At 1418, north of Judy Hill, the airplane initiated a left from a 322° track toward the southwest. The airplane descended from 625 ft down to 325 ft during the left turn and the last ground speed data was 118 knots. Refer to figure 1.

Figure 1. N5840P flight track (red) and wreckage location

The wreckage was located on the northwest side of Judy Hill at an elevation of 380 ft in lightly forested muskeg covered terrain. Judy Hill is an 814 ft hill situated at the southeast end of Gravina Island in the Tongass National Forrest. All major airplane components were located at the accident site. The debris track was about 300 ft long and 40 ft wide on a heading of 193° true. The debris field consisted of broken treetops, long deep ground scars, wing and empennage sections, and terminated at the inverted main fuselage, engine and inboard wings. Refer to figure 2. The wreckage has been recovered to a secure facility for further examination.

Figure 2. Photograph of the main wreckage area

The closest weather reporting facility is KTN. At 1353, a METAR from KTN was reporting in part: wind, 110° at 13 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; sky condition, scattered 900 ft, broken 1,400 ft, overcast 3,500 ft; temperature, 63° F; dew point 61° F; and an altimeter setting of 30.09 inches of mercury. KTN AFIS Lima contained the same weather information as the 1353 METAR. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N5840P
Model/Series: PA 24-180 Undesignated
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Unknown
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PAKT, 96 ft msl
Observation Time: 2153 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 4 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 16°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 900 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 13 knots / , 110°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 1400 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.09 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Friday Harbor, WA (FHR)
Destination: Ketchikan, AK (KTN) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 55.299167, -131.632500 (est)

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 

Michael Nash

Michael Patrick Nash, 68, of Wrangell, Alaska passed away on July 11, 2019 in a plane crash on Judy Hill near Ketchikan, Alaska.

Michael was born to Albert and Priscilla Nash and grew up in Friday Harbor, Washington along with his six siblings. It was there he fell in love with airplanes and flying, a love that never wavered throughout his lifetime. At age 16 he baled hay for the summer in order to earn enough money to buy his first airplane. As a young man he struggled between wanting to serve God by becoming a priest or becoming a pilot. Eventually he did both, flying to smaller Alaskan communities to preach the gospel, and soon became known as the "Flying Priest."

After 25 years of service Michael stepped down from the priesthood. He realized that many people he spoke with as a priest had more legal problems than spiritual so what better way to continue to help people than by becoming an attorney. He enrolled in the Creighton University School of Law in Omaha, Nebraska in 2003. Because of a job offer in 2007, he applied to and passed the bar in Iowa. In 2008 he was admitted into the Alaska bar and moved his law practice in 2011 to the state that had captivated his heart years before. Michael was very generous with his time and often took clients Pro Bono. Helping people was always his number one priority. It was at the Wrangell court where he met his future wife, Leanna. They were married on August 16, 2014.

He was preceded in death by his parents Albert and Priscilla Nash, and brother-in-Law Robert Strasser.

He leaves behind his wife of five years, Leanna (Splinter) Nash of Wrangell; step-daughters Veronica Blunt and Jessica (Chris) Stewart; "adopted son" Zack Nelson; and six siblings, Jack "John" Nash of San Diego, California, Mary Nash, Debbie (Robert) Nash-Strasser, Teresa (Norman) Nash-DeGraaff, Virginia Nash, and Tom (Tracy) Nash all of Friday Harbor; nine nieces and nephews; three grandnieces, along with numerous cousins. Michael's first grandchild will be arriving in October.

A funeral will be held at noon on August 16, 2019 at the St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Wrangell, with a reception to follow.


Alaska State Troopers have released the name of the pilot killed in a plane crash in Ketchikan.

Alaska State Troopers says 68-year-old Michael Nash of Wrangell was the pilot and single occupant of his Piper PA-24-180 Comanche.

Nash was found deceased inside the aircraft at about 400 feet elevation.


The Coast Guard says that the missing plane has been located along with the sole passenger on the plane.

The wreck was located by the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad, and the Alaska State Troopers are now coordinating the retrieval of the body and the wreckage.

The Alaska Volunteer Rescue Squad reported its location of the plane at 4:47 p.m. near Judy Hill, directly across the channel from the town Ketchikan and just south of the Ketchikan Airport, where it was expected to land.

The helicopter that was originally reported to have been dispatched to the scene never arrived, as the plane had already been located.

Original article:

The search is on for a plane near Ketchikan that was reported as overdue at 3:04 p.m.

The Coast Guard sent out two small boats to the area, near Blank Inlet on Gravina Island, as well as a helicopter. The small boats were on the scene by 4:30 p.m. and the helicopter arrived around 5:15 p.m.

The Coast Guard says that currently the status of the operation is “searching for overdue aircraft,” but the last known communication occurred at 2:30 p.m. according to what the Coast Guard received from Ketchikan Flight Services.

The Coast Guard says the weather at the time included clouds, 13 mph winds, and light rain. The visibility was nine miles and the temperature was 62 degrees.

Original article ➤


  1. Wow. Yet another ATP rated pilot goes down with the ship?
    Low ceilings? Perhaps medically related? Who knows...

  2. From his law site and involved in Aviation Law: "Attorney Michael Nash has been a commercial pilot and has owned an air service. He understands the particular problems of pilots and aircraft owners. As an attorney he can help you with legal problems related to aviation. Get help dealing with the FAA and with legal and business concerns involving air travel."

  3. ATP is not a rating. It's a grade of certificate.

  4. “ATP is not a rating. It's a grade of certificate.” You must be a lot of fun at parties.

  5. He is correct and he IS a blast at parties.

  6. Knowing the difference between a certificate and rating was something that was taught to me when I was a student.
    Can we agree the difference is important?