NTSB Identification: MIA02FA067.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Thursday, March 14, 2002 in Broadway, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/29/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA32R-300, registration: N4451X
Injuries: 1 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 accident airplane was on a Title 14 CFR Part 135 non scheduled cargo flight, when it collided a 1749 ft AGL (2149 ft MSL) communications tower. The airplane exploded on impact and the tower collapsed. The resulting debris was spread over an area of about 700 yards. A witness stated that he, his wife, and their two children were in their front yard, and they heard an aircraft engine. They all turned around to look at the airplane and he said he noted that the airplane was flying "westward or into the sun." He stated that as the airplane approached the tower, it appeared to have been lower than other airplanes he had seen fly over the tower previously. He stated that the airplane appeared to hit a guy wire, and that he did not notice any attempt to correct the flight path before the collision occurred. He also said that there had been no signs of trouble with the airplane's engine. As the airplane collided, it "jolted to the left, and exploded in mid air." He said that the collision appeared to have occurred about 3/4 of the way up the tower, and about 4 or 5 seconds after the explosion, the tower fell in the direction that the aircraft had been traveling. He said that at the time of the accident, the sky was clear, and the tower was visible. The Sanford -Lee County Regional Airport 1701, surface weather observation was, clear skies, winds from 160 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, temperature 22 degrees C, dewpoint temperature 14 degrees C, altimeter setting 30.06 inHg. Examination of debris and associated impact marks on the tower structure revealed that the airplane impacted the tower at the 1425-foot level, and that there were no signs of preaccident anomalies with the airframe, flight controls or engine. At the time of the accident the sun was at an altitude of 22 degrees on a bearing of 250 degrees from the accident site. The accident airplane was being flown on a magnetic heading of about 265 degrees.

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

The pilot's inadequate visual lookout and his failure to maintain obstacle clearance.

Full narrative available

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