Date & Time: Nov 29, 2013 at 1824 LT
Bethel - Mountain Village - Saint Mary's
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Aircraft sustained substantial damage after impacting terrain about 1 mile southeast of the St. Mary's Airport, St. Mary's, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as flight 1453, by Hageland Aviation Services, Inc., dba Era Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska as a visual flight rules (VFR) scheduled commuter flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. Of the 10 people on board, the commercial pilot and three passengers sustained fatal injuries, and six passengers sustained serious injuries. Night, instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed at the St. Mary's airport at the time of the accident and company flight following procedures were in effect. Flight 1453 departed from the Bethel Airport, Bethel, Alaska, at 1741 destined for Mountain Village, Alaska, and continuing to St. Mary's. Prior to reaching Mountain Village, the flight diverted to St. Mary's due to deteriorating weather. Witnesses on the ground at St. Mary's reported seeing the airplane fly over the airport at low altitude, traveling in a southeasterly direction. They continued to watch the airplane travel away from the airport, until its rotating beacon disappeared. Being concerned about the direction and altitude the airplane was flying, the witnesses attempted to contact the pilot on the radio, with no response. They then heard another aircraft on the radio report that there was an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) going off in the vicinity of St. Mary's. After checking for the airplane's last reported position on the company's flight following software, a search was initiated. Approximately one hour after the search was initiated, the airplane was located and rescue personnel confirmed that the pilot and two passengers died at the scene. One passenger died after being transported to the local clinic. The six surviving passengers were evacuated to Anchorage for treatment. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), along with an inspector from the Anchorage Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) traveled to the accident scene, but continuous poor weather conditions prevented them from reaching the site until December 1. The main wreckage was in an open area of snow-covered tundra, at an elevation of approximately 425 feet mean sea level (msl). The top of the ridge where the airplane impacted is at an approximate elevation of 530 feet msl. From the initial point of impact, the airplane traveled approximately 200 feet before coming to rest in an upright position. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, empennage, and wings. An on-scene documentation of the wreckage was completed, and a detailed wreckage examination is pending, following recovery of the airplane. The accident airplane was not equipped, nor was it required to be equipped with, a cockpit voice recorder (CVR), or a flight data recorder (FDR). The nearest official reporting station is the St. Mary's Airport (PASM). About 8 minutes before the accident, at 1816, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting: Wind, 230 degrees (True) at 7 knots; visibility, 3 statute miles; sky condition, overcast at 300 feet above ground level (agl); temperature, 18 degrees F; dew point, -32 degrees F; altimeter, 30.01 inches Hg. At 1836, the METAR was reporting, in part: Wind, 240 degrees (True) at 6 knots; visibility, 2.5 statute miles; sky condition, overcast at 300 feet agl; temperature, 18 degrees F; dew point, -32 degrees F; altimeter, 30.01 inches Hg.