Witnesses: Student Pilot Drunk Prior To Crash

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Student pilot Brendan Mattingley, 27, and his Piper PA-18 Super Cub disappeared near Anchorage last October, inspiring a weeks-long search, and now the NTSB has released evidence that the pilot may have been drunk and lied about his personal history. One witness, a bouncer who escorted Mattingley from a bar, described the pilot as "very intoxicated" less than two hours before he went missing. A cab driver who delivered Mattingley first to a motel and then to Soldotna Airport may have been the last to see Mattingley. He told the NTSB that Mattingley appeared to be drunk and stated that he would sleep in his airplane. Investigators were unable to find Mattingley's logbook, but found that he was convicted of a DWI charge in June of 2002, which he did not report to the FAA. Other factors complicated the search.

The NTSB was unable to locate personal flight records for the student pilot, but an application for a medical certificate dated April 11, 2011, listed his experience at 15 flight hours. Mattingley had checked "No" on FAA Form 8500-8, indicating he had never been convicted or arrested for DWI. The cab driver said he left the intoxicated student pilot at the airport after midnight. Radar data collected from the Air Force showed a departure from the airport just after 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 13. The NTSB interpreted the aircraft's track as "erratic," including a series of changes in speed, heading and altitude, before the plane turned northwest and flew out over Cook Inlet. The Super Cub's last known position was recorded roughly one hour and 45 minutes after departure near the middle of the inlet. Mattingley and the airplane have not been seen since. The missing aircraft was not equipped with or required to have a digital 406 MHz ELT. Emergency services have ceased to monitor analog 121.5 MHz signals from ELTs like the one onboard the accident aircraft. The NTSB factual report (PDF) indicates the agency presumes that the aircraft was destroyed on impact and that its pilot received fatal injuries.