NTSB Identification: NYC97LA063.
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Accident occurred Monday, March 24, 1997 in LINCOLN PARK, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/02/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-260, registration: N3604W
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that when he entered the traffic pattern at an uncontrolled airport, the runway lights were illuminated. On final approach, the runway lights extinguished. He clicked the microphone 5 times, and the runway lights reappeared. He remembered nothing else until he woke up in the airplane and climbed out of the wreckage. The airplane had struck a tree about 83 feet high, and 1,306 feet from the displaced threshold of the landing runway. A check of the pilot controlled lighting found that although the lights would stay illuminated longer than the required minimum of 15 minutes, it was possible to extinguish the lights if an attempt was made to reset the timer. According to the FAA publications (Airman Information Manual) and (Advisory Circular 150/5340-27A), the cycle of illumination, once initiated, should not be able to be interrupted. The pilot reported in a telephone interview that he should have gone around rather than attempt to get the runway lights illuminated again.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate obstacle clearance due to his diverted attention in attempting to re-illuminate the runway lights, which resulted in an inflight collision with a tree.

Full narrative available

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