NTSB Identification: CHI00LA041.
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Accident occurred Sunday, December 12, 1999 in MANKATO, MN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/04/2000
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-180, registration: N41910
Injuries: 2 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 airplane collided with trees while landing at night. An on scene examination of the aircraft found no anomalies that could be associated with a preexisting condition. In his written statement, the pilot listed no mechanical malfunction. The pilot stated that he '... was experiencing the classic optical illusion of thinking I was closer to the approach end of the runway, than I actually was.' The pilot stated that the accident could have been prevented by receiving additional night dual instruction and a visual approach slope indicator (VASI) on runway 22. According to the Airport/Facility Directory (A/FD), runway 22 has a VASI system that is activated using the aircraft radio tuned to the airport common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF). According to a statement from the airport manager, three flight instructors that operated aircraft during the late afternoon and early evening on the day of the accident were contacted. All three flight instructors indicated that the VASI lights were operational at the time of their flights. On the day following the accident, the airport maintenance manager conducted a daily inspection and determined that the VASI system was operational and in working order.

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

the pilots failure to maintain a proper glidepath. Factors were the dark night and the pilots lack of recent night flying experience.

Full narrative available

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