Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Piper J3C-65 Cub, N98109: Accident occurred June 28, 2021 in Sterling, Alaska

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

Location: Sterling, AK 
Accident Number: ANC21LA047
Date & Time: June 28, 2021, 15:30 Local 
Registration: N98109
Aircraft: Piper J3C-65 
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On June 28, 2021, about 1530 Alaska daylight time, a Piper J3C-65 airplane, N98109, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Sterling, Alaska. The pilot and one passenger were not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to the pilot, he had filled the airplane fuel tanks full of fuel two days prior with 100LL avgas at the self-serve fuel station on the airport but had not flown the airplane since. He said that on the day of the accident, during his preflight, “minimal” water was drained from the right-wing fuel tank. He added a quart of oil to the engine, for a total of seven quarts. He noted that all the before takeoff checks were normal and he then back taxied for departure.

After departure, while en route, the airplane reached an altitude of about 2,900 ft as the pilot planned to cross an ocean channel. The pilot reported that the engine began to “cough, sputter and make popping noises with a loss of power.” He said he pitched the nose of the airplane to attain 60 mph and began scanning for a possible emergency landing site. He then began emergency restart procedures, which included, in part: fuel selector to BOTH, carburetor heat to ON, mixture to the RICH position, primer in and locked, and the magnetos he cycled to L, R, BOTH. He also made a turn to the south looking for potential landing areas. He added that during the descent, the engine would run again with intermittent power, but only for brief periods of time.

The pilot notified air traffic control of the emergency and reported his location. He was attempting to make an alternate airport, but when he realized, the airplane was not going to make the runway, he selected a flat, tundra-covered site as a forced landing spot. He maneuvered the airplane for approach to the off-airport landing site and set the nose-high with a speed of about 50 mph. The pilot classified the initial touchdown as “ok” with “high drag” until hitting a “harder clump” of tundra. Subsequently, the airplane nosed over and came to rest inverted. The pilot and passenger were able to egress from the inverted airplane with no further incident. The pilot verified no injuries to himself or the passenger, then he returned to the airplane and verified everything was shutdown. He then grabbed the emergency transmitter locator and activated it manually.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the empennage and right wing. The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming O-290-D2 engine. The airplane has been recovered and is pending a detailed examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N98109
Model/Series: J3C-65 
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: 15:56 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 25 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 15°C /8°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 6500 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 270°
Lowest Ceiling: Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.09 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Departure Point: Homer, AK (HOM)
Destination: Anchorage, AK (LHD)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 60.716937,-150.33359 (est)

Location: Kenai Peninsula
Type: Plane Crash

On June 28, 2021, at approximately 1613 hours, Alaska State Troopers in Soldotna were notified of a possible plane crash of a Piper J3C-65 Cub,  26 miles NE of Kenai in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. 

The Department of Public Safety’s HELO3 launched from Anchorage and located the crash site near Rabbit Foot Lake along with two survivors. 

HELO3 transported the two occupants, an adult male and a juvenile male, back to Anchorage. 

Both were uninjured and declined medical assistance.

The NTSB was notified of the crash.

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