NTSB Identification: NYC95FA068.
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Accident occurred Sunday, March 12, 1995 in SUFFOLK, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/13/1996
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32-260, registration: N57326
Injuries: 3 Fatal,3 Serious.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

BEFORE DEPARTING FROM HAMPTON, GA, THE PILOT REQUESTED THAT THE TWO MAIN TANKS AND TWO AUX TANKS BE 'TOPPED'; HOWEVER, THE REFUELER STATED THAT ONLY THE MAINS WERE FILLED. EN ROUTE, THE PILOT BECAME AWARE OF A LOW FUEL CONDITION. A PASSENGER STATED THAT THE PILOT CONSIDERED LANDING AT RALEIGH-DURHAM FOR FUEL, BUT HAVING A RADIO PROBLEM, HE CONTINUED THE FLIGHT TOWARD THE DESTINATION (NEWPORT NEWS, VA). LATER, HE DECIDED TO DIVERT TO SUFFOLK, VA, BUT THE ENGINE LOST POWER ABOUT 5 MILES FROM THE SUFFOLK MUNICIPAL AIRPORT. SUBSEQUENTLY, THE AIRPLANE STRUCK TREES AS THE PILOT WAS MANEUVERING TO LAND IN A FIELD AT NIGHT. NO EVIDENCE OF FUEL WAS FOUND AT THE SCENE. A TOXICOLOGY TEST OF THE PILOT'S BLOOD SHOWED THAT IT CONTAINED 0.048 MCG/ML OF CHLORPHENIRAMINE (OVER-THE-COUNTER ANTIHISTAMINE). CHLORPHENIRAMINE AND PHENYLPROPANOLAMINE (OVER-THE-COUNTER DECONGESTANT) WERE ALSO DETECTED IN HIS URINE. CHLORPHENIRAMINE IS A CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM DEPRESSANT THAT COULD CAUSE DROWSINESS AND IS NOT APPROVED FOR USE WHILE FLYING.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

THE PILOT'S INADEQUATE PREFLIGHT AND IMPROPER IN-FLIGHT PLANNING/DECISION, WHICH RESULTED IN FUEL EXHAUSTION. DARKNESS WAS A FACTOR RELATED TO THE IMPROPER PLANNING/DECISION-MAKING FOR THE EMERGENCY LANDING.

Full narrative available

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