NTSB Identification: NYC04FA077.
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Accident occurred Thursday, February 26, 2004 in Corry, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/28/2005
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-181, registration: N4166P
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.

About 20 minutes into the night cross-country flight, the pilot reported a rough-running engine to air traffic control. The pilot requested to return to the departure airport and was instructed by ATC to "reverse course, report airport in sight." No further pertinent transmissions were received from the pilot. A witness near the accident site reported observing the airplane approach the field at a very high speed. The airplane was heading north at a height of about 800 feet, then turned to the left, and descended from view. A second witness observed the airplane flying in a northerly direction. The airplane made a left turn and descended from view. The witness added that the airplanes engine was "spitting and sputtering like it was stalling or running out of gas." The wreckage was located in a snow covered farm field, next to a row of six large hardwood trees, about 25 miles southeast of the departure airport. Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted the ground in front of the trees, in a nose-low, left-wing-low attitude. Examination of the wreckage revealed that the propeller blades were twisted, bent aft, and displayed leading edge nicks and chordwise scratches. Examination of the cockpit area revealed that the tachometer gauge displayed a reading of 3,000 rpm. The throttle and mixture control levers in the cockpit were both in the full forward position, and the carburetor heat lever was observed in the "ON" position. A review of a FAA carburetor icing probability chart placed the reported temperature and dew point in the "icing at glide and cruise power" area of the chart. Examination of the engine did not reveal any abnormalities. The reported weather at the departure airport included 10 statute miles of visibility and clear skies. The temperature was 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and a dew point of 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The pilot accumulated about 233 hours of total flight experience, 2.6 hours of which were in make and model.

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

The loss of partial engine power for undetermined reasons, and the pilot's lost of control after performing an evasive maneuver to avoid trees during a forced landing at night. Factors related to the accident were a rough running engine and the pilot's inability to see the trees due to the nighttime conditions.

Full narrative available

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