NTSB Identification: ATL02FA063.
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Accident occurred Saturday, March 09, 2002 in Laurens, SC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/25/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-160, registration: N160D
Injuries: 2 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.

While maneuvering for a night instrument approach, the airplane collided with terrain. According to a witness, a sound of an airplane circling his home was heard. Several minutes later the witness heard a "loud thud". At the approximate same time, Atlanta Center reported a loss of radar contact. The downed airplane was located several hours later following a ground search. Witnesses in the area at the time of the accident, reported dense fog. According to the Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular #60-4A: during periods of low visibility a pilot is particularly vulnerable to disorientation. Examination of the accident site showed that wreckage debris was scattered in a heavily wooded area over an area 110 feet long and 30 feet wide. The engine and propeller assemblies were buried approximately four feet into the ground in a nose down attitude.

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

The pilot experienced spatial disorientation, which resulted in a loss of control and the subsequent collision with terrain. Factors were low clouds and dark-night.

Full narrative available

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