NTSB Identification: BFO92LA070.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 46706.
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 20, 1992 in MORRISVILLE, VT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/21/1993
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-161, registration: N2950K
Injuries: 4 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 ACCIDENT OCCURRED AT NIGHT OVER THREE MILES FROM THE DEPARTURE AIRPORT AND ABOUT FIVE MINUTES AFTER TAKEOFF. THIS WAS THE PILOT'S FIRST TAKEOFF FROM THIS AIRPORT, HAVING FLOWN THERE EARLIER THAT DAY. ACCORDING TO THE PILOT, HE USED 25 DEGREES OF FLAPS FOR TAKEOFF, AND THEN CLIMBED AT 60 KNOTS. HE SAID DURING THE DEPARTURE FROM THE AIRPORT,'THE SURROUNDINGS GOT DARKER AND DARKER.' AS HE CLIMBED THROUGH 1000 FEET MSL HE GRADUALLY RAISED THE FLAPS AND INCREASED SPEED TO 80 KNOTS. HE CLIMBED NORTH, DIRECT TO THE MONTPIELER VOR. THE PILOT SAID HE WAS 'AMAZED HOW DARK IT WAS, BARELY ABLE TO DISTINGUISH THE HORIZON.' HE THEN SAW TREES AHEAD IN THE PATH OF THE AIRPLANE, WHICH HE UNSUCCESSFULLY TRIED TO AVOID BY PULLING BACK ON THE CONTROL WHEEL. THE PILOT STATED THAT THE STALL WARNING HORN SOUNDED JUST AS THE AIRPLANE STRUCK TREES. THE AIRPLANE FELL TO THE GROUND AND A FIRE ERUPTED AFTER THE PILOT AND PASSENGERS EXITED THE AIRPLANE.

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

THE PILOT'S FAILURE TO MAINTAIN CLEARANCE WITH THE TERRAIN. CONTRIBUTING TO THE ACCIDENT WAS A DARK NIGHT AND THE LACK OF FAMILIARITY WITH THE GEOGRAPHIC AREA.

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