NTSB Identification: IAD03FA019.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, November 27, 2002 in Bastian, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/01/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-32RT-300, registration: N31554
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 conducting a night cross-country, about 9 miles south of his destination, the pilot reported a break in the layer of clouds below him, and canceled his instrument flight rules flight plan. Radar data indicated that the airplane made a 360-degree descending left turn from 5,800 feet, to 4,700 feet, before radar contact was lost. The airplane impacted trees and rising terrain, at night, at an elevation of 3,896 feet. Weather at the airport, which has an elevation of 2,857 feet, included a broken cloud layer at 1,900 feet. Examination of the airplane revealed no mechanical deficiencies.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain an adequate altitude above terrain. Factors in the accident were the dark night conditions and the low cloud ceiling.

Full narrative available

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