NTSB Identification: IAD02LA025.
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Accident occurred Monday, January 14, 2002 in OXFORD, MA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/26/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-180, registration: N3997R
Injuries: 1 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 pilot was on a cross country flight when he became disoriented and misidentified the airport that he intended to land at with another airport located about 9 miles away. Both airports had the same runway alignment and Unicom frequency. The pilot performed a short field approach to runway 02, and landed about 1/3 of the way down the 2,097 foot long snow and patchy ice covered runway. He said that he "landed longer down the runway than he would have liked, and that was part of the problem." During the landing roll-out, the pilot said that he avoided hard braking due to the runway conditions. As the airplane came over a rise, he noticed a snow bank located at the end of the runway and decided to abort the landing. With less than half of the runway length available, the pilot applied power and tried to establish a climb, but was unable to clear the trees. The pilot reported that there were no mechanical deficiencies. He also reported that the accident could have been prevented by, "strict adherence to the flight plan...use of multiple characteristics to identify rural airports...[and] more precise execution of short-field procedure." A review of the Piper PA-28-180 takeoff performance charts revealed that the airplane would have needed approximately 1,625 feet to take off over a 50-foot obstacle on a paved, level, dry runway in zero wind conditions with 25 degrees of flaps extended, and full power applied before brake release.

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

The pilot's delayed aborted landing and his failure to attain obstacle clearance. The pilot's misjudgment of distance is a contributing factor.

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