Haze contributes to crash into glacier

This May 2007 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Bellanca 8KCAB.
Location: Girdwood, Alaska.
Injuries: 1 Serious.
Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was flying over a group of hikers who were on a remote glacier. The sky at the time of the accident was overcast and hazy. According to the hikers, the pilot made two passes at an altitude of about 80 feet AGL.

After the second pass the airplane continued away from the group and descended until it collided with the ice and snow-covered surface of the glacier. The pilot told investigators that he thought he was about 200 feet above the ground when he overflew the glacier, but that the flat light and hazy conditions made it difficult to judge altitude. The pilot said that he mistook the descent of the airplane for a downslope of the glacier.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain sufficient altitude/clearance from terrain while maneuvering, resulting in an a collision with a glacier.

For more information: NTSB.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20070510X00549&key=1.

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