NTSB Identification: ATL01FA094.
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Accident occurred Sunday, August 19, 2001 in Rienzi, MS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/25/2002
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-151, registration: N57297
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 airplane collided with trees and terrain during a night flight that departed at 0249 central daylight time. The private pilot was recently certificated. Weather reporting facilities indicated the possibility of IFR conditions in the vicinity of the accident site about the time of the accident, and it was a moonless, dark night. GPS data retrieved from a hand-held unit recovered from the wreckage indicate nearly constant heading fluctuations throughout the flight, depicting a scalloped flight path and eventual 360-degree turn to the right at the end of the data set. Examination of the accident site showed the airplane rested in a nose-low attitude adjacent to two trees. Wreckage debris was scattered over am area approximately 70 feet land and 35 feet wide. The wreckage path was orientated on a 240 degree magnetic heading. The engine assembly was buried several inches into the ground. The empennage section was stacked on top of the cockpit and passenger sections of the airframe at the point of ground impact. Examination of the air frame and the engine assembly revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunction or a component failure.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot experienced spatial disorientation, which resulted in an in-flight loss of control and subsequent collision with trees and terrain. A factor was the dark night condition. Full narrative available
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