Sunday, April 18, 2021

Controlled Flight Into Terrain: Piper PA-18A Super Cub, N2791P; accident occurred April 07, 2020 in Chickaloon, Alaska

View of accident airplane. 

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Additional Participating Entity: 

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Chickaloon, AK
Accident Number: ANC20CA041
Date & Time: 04/07/2020, 1230 AKD
Registration: N2791P
Aircraft: Piper PA 18A
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT)
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The pilot reported that she was landing the airplane at a remote area of mountainous, snow-covered terrain and that she had selected an area that was slightly uphill for landing. She felt uncomfortable with the final stages of the approach, so she chose to go around. During the go-around, she added full power and started a left turn. The airplane subsequently impacted an area of rising, snow-covered terrain, which resulted in substantial damage to the right wing and fuselage. The pilot added that she should have made another practice approach or two to verify the wind direction and local terrain conditions.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's selection of unsuitable terrain for landing, which necessitated a go-around, and her subsequent failure to maintain clearance from rising mountainous terrain.


Personnel issues Decision making/judgment - Pilot
Aircraft Altitude - Not attained/maintained
Environmental issues Mountainous/hilly terrain - Effect on operation
Environmental issues Mountainous/hilly terrain - Decision related to condition

Factual Information

History of Flight

Approach-VFR go-around Miscellaneous/other
Approach-VFR go-around Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT) (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 40, Female
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/18/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 06/03/2019
Flight Time:   (Estimated) 400 hours (Total, all aircraft), 350 hours (Total, this make and model), 400 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 25 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 14 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1.7 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N2791P
Model/Series: PA 18A 150
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1955
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18-4426
Landing Gear Type: Ski/wheel; Tailwheel
Seats: 3
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/01/2019, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1750 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3600 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-320-A2B
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power:160 hp 
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PAAQ, 230 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 56 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2053 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 274°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Light and Variable /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: Variable
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 30.1 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: -1°C / -17°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Girdwood, AK (AQY)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Chickaloon, AK
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1045 AKD
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 61.539722, -147.134444 (est)


  1. If you are landing up hill in an unprepared spot, you need to be committed because you may not out climb the terrain - and definitely won't if in higher density altitude conditions. You don't go around for obvious reasons like this. Fortunate to walk away from this and hopefully she learned her lesson.

    1. My thought also. Poor planning and very lucky to have survived. Ridiculous for her to say she should have made a couple more practice approaches. Obviously not a physics student.