NTSB Identification: ATL91FA047.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 44258.
Accident occurred Saturday, February 02, 1991 in CORDELE, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/08/1993
Aircraft: PIPER PA-24-260, registration: N9209P
Injuries: 3 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.

THE PILOT AND TWO PASSENGERS WERE FLYING TO AN AIRPORT TO PICK UP A FRIEND. NIGHT VMC PREVAILED. WITNESSES OBSERVED THE AIRPLANE FLYING AT ABOUT 300 FT AGL AT VARIOUS POSITIONS OVER THE CITY, VARYING HEADINGS, AND SOMETIMES CIRCLING. ONE WITNESS STATED THAT THE PILOT 'SEEMED LIKE HE DIDN'T KNOW WHERE HE WAS GOING.' THE AIRPLANE THEN PROCEEDED TOWARD THE MIDFIELD POINT OF THE AIRPORT ON A NORTHERLY HEADING. IT COLLIDED WITH PINE TREES, THEN FELL INTO THE ROOF OF A CHURCH LOCATED 150 FEET FARTHER NORTH. THE AIRCRAFT, AND CHURCH, WERE DESTROYED BY FIRE. THE FUEL SELECTOR VALVE WAS FOUND IN THE 'LEFT AUX' TANK POSITION; HOWEVER, AUX TANKS WERE TO BE USED IN LEVEL FLIGHT ONLY. ACTUATOR SETTINGS INDICATED THE GEAR WAS DOWN & THE FLAPS WERE UP. PROP SIGNATURES INDICATED PROP ROTATION IN A POWER PRODUCING MODE AT IMPACT. THE RUNWAY LIGHTS FOR RWY 9/27 WERE ON AT THE TIME, AND THE AIRCRAFT'S NORTHERLY HEADING WAS NOT ALIGNED WITH ANY RUNWAY. THE LOCATION OF THE AIRPORT DID NOT REQUIRE THE CITY TO BE OVERFLOWN.

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

FAILURE OF THE PILOT TO ATTAIN PROPER RUNWAY ALIGNMENT AND TO MAINTAIN PROPER ALTITUDE. RELATED FACTORS WERE: DARKNESS AND THE PILOT BECOMING LOST/DISORIENTED.

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