NTSB Identification: IAD97FA014.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, October 29, 1996 in BRANDY STATION, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/30/1998
Aircraft: Cessna 172L, registration: N7737G
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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.

The certificated flight instructor (CFI) and student pilot were practicing landings on a dark moonless night, when the airplane struck 80 foot high trees, 2,157 feet from the approach end of the runway. Examination of the airplane and engine did not disclose any evidence of mechanical malfunction. The Visual Approach Slope Indicator (VASI) for the runway was inspected after the accident; the VASI was determined to have provided a clearance of 96.51 feet above the trees at the accident site. The Airport Manager stated that the CFI had completed an instrument flight instructor check ride about 30 days before the accident. According to a pilot information form dated 17 months before the accident, the CFI had reported over 632 hours of airplane experience, which included 85 hours in make and model. This was the student's first night flight.

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

the certificated flight instructor's failure to ensure that proper altitude/clearance was maintained above the terrain and trees, while on final approach. Darkness was a related factor.

Full narrative available

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