NTSB Identification: CHI98LA040.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, November 19, 1997 in SALEM, IN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/29/1998
Aircraft: Cessna 172, registration: N92042
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 had topped off the fuel at Evansville, Indiana, before continuing on to Wilmington, Ohio. The alternator circuit breaker popped during climb out and he reset it. After flying approximately twenty minutes, the pilot saw smoke curling from under the instrument panel. Louisville Approach gave the pilot radar vectors to Salem, Indiana. The pilot activated the runway lights, but he did not turn on the airplane's landing lights. He tried to lower the flaps, but they did not operate. He reported that he thought he was high enough, but got too low, and the airplane hit trees. The airplane came to rest about 1,000 feet east of the airport. There were indications that the airplane's left wing had impacted a tree, and the airplane had spun around. Both propeller blades had leading edge and chordwise scratching. The airplane's electrical system was examined, but the reason for the electrical malfunction was not determined.

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

the pilot's misjudgment of distance and altitude, while on final approach to land at night. Factors relating to the accident included: an undetermined electrical malfunction, inoperative flaps, darkness, the pilot not using the landing light, and the proximity of trees to the runway.

Full narrative available

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