NTSB Identification: CHI98LA055.
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Accident occurred Saturday, December 06, 1997 in CAIRO, MO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/21/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-24, registration: N8452P
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 had climbed to 5,500 ft MSL & had trimmed the airplane at cruise power settings. He set the GPS navigation system for a direct flight, then engaged the autopilot & switched the fuel selector to the left auxiliary fuel tank. He remembered passing Herrington, KS, at which time, he set his radios for arrival at Topeka, Ks. From that point, he could not remember anything else about the flight until he 'awoke' in a flat hay field near Cairo, MO. (The airplane had touched down in a wings level attitude and slid about 525 ft before hitting a fence & small trees.) When the pilot 'initially awoke,' he was confused & thought he was still airborne. Eventually, he walked to a farm house & after waiting another 1 to 1-1/2 hr, an ambulance arrived to take him to a hospital. Subsequently, blood was drawn. Toxicology tests of his blood showed 26.8% saturation with carbon monoxide. Inspection of the airplane revealed the right muffler had a crack around one of its seams, which allowed exhaust fumes into the cabin heater housing & into the cabin. The airplane had recently been taken to an airplane service center for an annual inspection. The pilot decided to fly the airplane before the annual inspection had been signed off.

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

a fractured muffler, failure of the owner/pilot to ensured that the annual maintenance inspection had been completed before flight, and subsequent pilot incapacitation due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Full narrative available

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