NTSB Identification: MIA98FA007B
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 07, 1997 in ROBBINS, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/28/2000
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-260, registration: N3940W
Injuries: 3 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 pilot of Beech 35, N2050W, phoned the Leesburg Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) to file a round trip IFR flight plan, but the briefing specialist inadvertently inputted the departure time as 1130 UTC instead of 1530 UTC (1130 local). The Beech flight departed VFR, and the pilot attempted to obtain an IFR clearance, but the controller advised him that there was no IFR flight plan in the system. The pilot advised the controller that he would proceed VFR. While en route, the Beech was on a north-northwesterly course, when it began to converge with Piper PA-32, N3940W, that was on a east-northeasterly course at about the same altitude. At about that time, the Beech pilot contacted an ATC facility and stated that his flight was level at 5,500 feet. He was given a discrete transponder code to squawk, and the pilot complied. The controller immediately advised the pilot that traffic was off to his left, but there was no acknowledgement. Both airplanes crashed into a rural area. An investigation revealed the nose landing gear of the Piper collided with the left wing tip of the Beech. Review of the FAR's revealed that while flying VFR between 180 and 359 degrees magnetic course, above 3,000 feet above ground level (agl), the pilot should fly at even thousand feet altitudes plus 500 feet. VFR flight between 0 and 179 degrees, above 3,000 feet agl, should be at odd thousands plus 500 feet.

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

failure of the pilots in both aircraft to see-and-avoid each other's airplane (inadequate visual lookout), and failure of the Beech pilot to operate his airplane at a correct Visual Flight Rules (VFR) cruising altitude for his route of flight.

Full narrative available

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