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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 220357
Last updated: 6 February 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic PA23 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Piper PA-23 Apache (Sequin Geronimo conv.)
Registration: N2146P
C/n / msn: 23-748
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:West of Mackinac City and N of Beaver Island Airport (KSJX), Peaine, M -   United States of America
Phase: Take off
Departure airport:Beaver Island, MI (SJX)
Destination airport:Charlotte, MI (FPK)
Investigating agency: NTSB
The instrument, multi-engine rated private pilot was departing into dark night visual meteorological conditions at the time of the accident. The airport was located in an area with minimal ground lighting with no discernable horizon visible after takeoff. Witnesses heard the airplane take off toward the west and subsequently turn to the north. They described the sound of the engines as "very loud." One witness added that the engines seemed to be operating normally. Another witness noted that the sound changed to a lower pitch similar to when a pilot transitions to climb power after takeoff. The sound ended abruptly when the airplane impacted a wooded area about 1/3 mile from the airport on a north-northeasterly heading. Examination of the airframe and engines did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction.

It is possible that the pilot experienced some level spatial disorientation which led to a loss of control and impact with the trees and terrain. However, it is also possible that the pilot became distracted configuring the airplane for climb during the initial turn after takeoff which led to the airplane entering an inadvertent descent and controlled flight into terrain. This scenario is consistent with the witness statement noting a transition to climb power immediately after takeoff. In addition, the earwitness reports did not describe a typical loss-of-control event. The lack of a visible horizon due to the dark night lighting conditions and lack of ground lights in the vicinity of the airport would have contributed to either scenario.

Probable Cause: The pilot's failure to maintain a positive rate of climb after takeoff which resulted in an impact with trees and terrain. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's inability to see a visible horizon due to the dark night lighting conditions and limited ground lights in the vicinity of the airport.



FAA register:

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 3 months
Download report: Final report



Photo of N2146P courtesy

Fond du Lac - Fond du Lac County (KFLD / FLD)
3 August 2013; (c) Alex Christie

Revision history:

31-Dec-2018 09:14 Captain Adam Added
31-Dec-2018 09:14 harro Updated [Date]
31-Dec-2018 16:07 Geno Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Operator, Location, Source, Narrative]
31-Dec-2018 16:49 RobertMB Updated [Narrative]
31-Dec-2018 17:14 RobertMB Updated [Narrative]
31-Dec-2018 17:15 RobertMB Updated [Narrative]
31-Dec-2018 19:13 Geno Updated [Total occupants, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Source]
01-Jan-2019 15:36 Aerossurance Updated [Location, Narrative]
01-Jan-2019 16:36 RobertMB Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Location, Narrative]
01-Jan-2019 16:36 RobertMB Updated [Narrative]
05-Jan-2019 19:54 Iceman 29 Updated [Departure airport, Source, Embed code]
22-Apr-2020 17:01 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Operator, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative, Accident report, ]

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