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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 43689
Last updated: 15 October 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic P28A model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Piper PA-28-140
Registration: N6493W
MSN: 28-20569
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Syria, VA -   United States of America
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:Hartsville, SC (HVS)
Destination airport:Winchester, VA (OKV)
Investigating agency: NTSB
The accident airplane was on a direct course to its destination airport during dark night with mountainous terrain off its left side. The pilot had accumulated approximately 140 total hours of flight experience and was not instrument-rated. While descending to 3,500 feet above mean sea level (msl), the airplane turned off its established course to the east. When queried by the approach controller, the pilot responded he was heading 045 degrees. When asked again to say his heading, he responded he was on a 107-degree heading, but should be on a 025-degree heading, and was making a left turn “towards my course.” He then was told to proceed on course and advised to maintain “Ground avoidance, obstacle avoidance as you are in a 5,600 foot minimum vectoring altitude area.” No further transmissions were received and moments later radar contact lost by the approach control facility. Review of radar data also revealed that the accident airplane’s ground speed and ground track had begun to fluctuate just prior to the controller’s query and that after the airplane turned back to the left, altitude decreased, airspeed increased, and radar contact was then lost. The wreckage was discovered on the side of a mountain at 2,848 feet msl. No evidence of any preimpact malfunction of the airplane or engine was discovered. A report from another pilot to the approach controller revealed that there was no visible horizon or visible ground lighting in the area where the accident airplane went off radar. The FAA's Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25) stated, "Unless a pilot has many hours of training in instrument flight, flight in reduced visibility or at night when the horizon is not visible should be avoided."
Probable Cause: The pilot's inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions and his failure to maintain aircraft control. Contributing to the accident was the dark night conditions.




Revision history:

28-Oct-2008 00:45 ASN archive Added
21-Dec-2016 19:24 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
04-Dec-2017 18:52 ASN Update Bot Updated [Cn, Operator, Other fatalities, Source, Narrative]

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