NTSB Identification: FTW91FA033.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 43090.
Accident occurred Sunday, January 27, 1991 in OPPELLA, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/1993
Aircraft: PIPER PA-30, registration: N291R
Injuries: 1 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.

DURING A NIGHT DEPARTURE, THE AIRPLANE IMPACTED TREES 65 FEET ABOVE THE GROUND, APPROXIMATELY .25 MILE FROM THE RUNWAY AFTER EXECUTING A TURN LEFT OF 90 DEGREES. THE AIRPLANE CAME TO REST IN A LAKE. THE RUNWAY IN USE FOR THE DARK NIGHT DEPARTURE WAS 20. THE RUNWAY WAS LOCATED IN A DEPRESSION ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN SHROUDED BY FOG AND CLOUDS, PROVIDING NO HORIZON FOR A VISUAL REFERENCE. EXAMINATION OF THE AIRPLANE'S ELECTRICAL SYSTEM REVEALED THAT AT THE TIME OF IMPACT THE INSTRUMENT PANEL LIGHTS WERE NOT ILLUMINATED. THE SWITCH WAS IN THE ON POSITION. THE INSTRUMENT PANEL LIGHTS CIRCUIT BREAKER WAS FOUND POPPED. EVIDENCE OF THE PILOT STRIKING THE LEFT SIDE OF HIS HEAD ON THE INSTRUMENT PANEL AND THE SIGNIFICANT INJURIES TO THE LEFT SIDE OF THE TORSO AND EXTREMITIES INDICATED THE PILOT WAS REACHING DOWN WITH THE RIGHT HAND, WITH THE LEFT HAND ON THE YOKE, IN AN EFFORT TO RESET THE INSTRUMENT PANEL LIGHT'S CIRCUIT BREAKER.

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

THE PILOT'S FAILURE TO MAINTAIN A PROPER CLIMB RATE FOLLOWING LOSS OF HIS VISUAL REFERENCES AND ALLOWING HIMSELF TO BECOME DIVERTED DURING THE TAKEOFF. FACTORS IN THE ACCIDENT WERE INTERRUPTED INSTRUMENT LIGHTING AND THE DARK NIGHT CONDITIONS.

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