Sunday, April 04, 2021

de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, N4982U and Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser, N2587M: Fatal accident occurred July 31, 2020 in Soldotna, Alaska

David Rogers

Pictured left to right: Caleb Hulsey and Heather Hulsey, Mackay Husley and Kirstin Wright.

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.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Anchorage, Alaska
High Adventure Air Charter; Soldotna, Alaska

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Soldotna Aircraft & Equipment Leasing LLC

Location: Soldotna, AK 
Accident Number: ANC20LA074
Date & Time: July 31, 2020, 08:27 Local
Registration: N4982U (A1); N2587M (A2)
Aircraft: De Havilland DHC-2 (A1); Piper PA 12 (A2)
Injuries: 6 Fatal (A1); 1 Fatal (A2)
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air taxi & commuter - Non-scheduled (A1); Part 91: General aviation - Personal (A2)

On July 31, 2020, about 0827 Alaska daylight time, a de Havilland DHC-2 (Beaver) airplane, N4982U, and a Piper PA-12 airplane, N2587M, were destroyed when they were involved in an accident near Soldotna, Alaska. Both pilots and the five passengers on the DHC-2 were fatally injured. The DHC-2 was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135 on-demand charter flight. The PA-12 was operated as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight.

The float-equipped DHC-2, operated by High Adventure Charter, departed Longmere Lake, Soldotna, about 0824 bound for a remote lake on the west side of Cook Inlet. The purpose of the flight was to transport the passengers to a remote fishing location. The PA-12, operated by a private individual, departed Soldotna Airport, Soldotna, Alaska, about 0824 bound for Fairbanks, Alaska.

Preliminary flight track data revealed that the DHC-2 was traveling northwest about 1,175 ft mean sea level (msl) and gradually climbing about 78 knots (kts) when it crossed the Sterling Highway. The PA-12 was traveling northeast about 1,175 ft msl and about 71 kts north of and parallel to the Sterling Highway. The airplanes collided about 2.5 miles northeast of the Soldotna airport at an altitude of about 1,175 ft msl and data signals were lost. See Figure 1 for the airplanes' flight tracks.

A witness located near the accident site observed the DHC-2 traveling in a westerly direction and the PA-12 traveling in a northerly direction. He stated that the PA-12 impacted the DHC-2 on the left side of the fuselage toward the back of the airplane. After the collision, he observed what he believed to be the DHC-2's left wing separate, and the airplane entered an uncontrolled, descending counterclockwise spiral before disappearing from view. He did not observe the PA-12 following the collision.

The DHC-2 main wreckage was heavily fragmented and located in a wooded residential area; the fuselage was oriented on a heading of about 270° at an elevation of about 240 ft. A debris field about 300 ft long and oriented on about a 327° heading included the engine, fuselage, wings, vertical stabilizer, and portions of the floats. Dark green paint transfers consistent with the PA-12 were observed on the aft fuselage of the DHC-2. The PA-12 main wreckage was located about 600 ft east of the DHC-2. The airplane impacted in a near vertical attitude and came to rest at an elevation of about 258 ft. The horizontal stabilizer and one elevator from the DHC-2 were found intertwined in the wreckage of the PA-12.

The DHC-2 was registered to Soldotna Aircraft and Equipment Leasing. A registration card located inside the PA-12 identified the airplane as a Piper PA-12 with a registration number of N2587M. The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) registration database revealed that N2587M was a valid registration for a Piper PA-12 assigned to the pilot. However, the PA-12's exterior registration number identified the airplane as N1904T; in addition, the word "EXPERIMENTAL" was applied to the inside of the lower clam shell door. A search of the FAA registration database revealed that the registration number had been reserved by the pilot but was not a valid registration.

According to information on file with the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, the pilot of the PA-12 was denied medical certification in June 2012 by the Alaska Regional Flight Surgeon due to vision problems. The denial was appealed and sustained in July 2012.

Neither airplane was equipped with, nor were they required to be equipped with, a crashworthy flight data or cockpit voice recorder. Several avionics components and personal electronic devices were recovered from the wreckage areas. These components and devices were shipped to the National Transportation Safety Board Vehicle Recorders Laboratory, Washington, DC, for further examination.

A detailed wreckage examination of both airplanes is pending. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information (A1)

Aircraft Make: De Havilland 
Registration: N4982U
Model/Series: DHC-2 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand air taxi (135)
Operator Designator Code:

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information (A2)

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N2587M
Model/Series: PA 12 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PASX, 113 ft msl
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 15°C /11°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 8500 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.93 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: 

Wreckage and Impact Information (A1)

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 5 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 6 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 60.495555,-151.01693

Wreckage and Impact Information (A2)

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 60.495555,-151.01693


  1. So let me get this straight - this guy's medical had been denied due to vision problems and here he was flying anyway ? The result of which was a midair collision that killed 6 innocent people ? And he was a politician on top of that so, at least to me, it would seem this fellow was practiced at the art of deception. Pity for the 6 other lives his selfishness cost.

    1. You are 100% correct but I'm going to play devil's advocate which is most certainly going to be brought up in the inevitable family lawsuits from both aircraft crash deaths. It takes two to tango into a mid-air collision where seeing and avoiding is rule #1.

    2. It is unfortunately true that from the lawsuit perspective, the Beaver pilot did not succeed in keeping his passengers safe from the Piper that was being illegally flown.

      The family of the Beaver pilot was dealt an awful outcome from not detecting the unauthorized Piper. Loss of life and subject to the lawsuit as well.

    3. The first reply is absurd. It doesn't take two for one person to decide to fly illegally and kill a bunch of innocent people doing so.

  2. Not starting a political rant but do you sincerely expect politicians to do the right thing?

  3. Remember this accident and those 4 young lives ended next time someone says "lack of a piece of paper never killed anyone".


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