NTSB Identification: CHI98LA061.
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Accident occurred Saturday, December 13, 1997 in STURTEVANT, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/20/1999
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-140, registration: N5454S
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

Witnesses reported the airplane approached the runway at a '...very low angle... .' The airplane crossed a 4-lane highway that was perpendicular to the runway and final approach course. The landing gear struck the top of a southbound semi-trailer truck's air deflector and trailer, then the airplane collided with the ground about 140-feet west of the truck collision point. According to the pilot's logbook, she had accumulated over 37 hours of total flight experience. She had flown about 26 hours at an airport that had runways 100 and 150-feet wide, and about 11 hours at the accident airport runway, 33 feet wide. According to a Human Performance Specialist at the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute, runway width differences may be a source of distortion in perception during landing. When the runway is narrower than normal, the pilot may experience an illusion that causes them to fly a lower than normal final approach path.

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

The pilot's misjudgment of altitude/distance and her failure to maintain adequate visual lookout. Also causal was the pilot's failure to maintain adequate obstacle clearance. A contributing factor was the pilot experiencing a visual illusion.

Full narrative available

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