NTSB Identification: CHI05FA260.
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Accident occurred Saturday, September 10, 2005 in Wabash, IN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/26/2007
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-300, registration: N4032R
Injuries: 4 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 airplane impacted terrain while maneuvering to land at night. The pilot had recently resumed flying after a long period of not flying. In March 1990, the pilot reported his total flight time was 150 hours. In June 2005, the pilot reported his total flight time was 150 hours and that he had not flown within the previous six months. The pilot's flight logbook indicated that his total night flight experience was about 17 hours. The pilot's flight logbook also indicated that he had not flown at night in over 15 years. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The ground visibility was 6 statute miles due to moderate haze. The accident occurred after civil twilight with 41-percent of the moon's visible disk illuminated. The airplane impacted about 1/3 nm south of the runway 9 threshold. The airplane impacted left wing low into a flat, cultivated soybean field. The airplane subsequently exploded and a ground fire ensued. The wreckage debris path was over 160 feet long. No mechanical anomalies were noted with the airframe, engine, or propeller that could be associated with a preexisting condition that would have prevented normal operation. Airport personnel verified after the accident that the runway 9/27 runway lighting systems were operational.

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

The pilot's spatial disorientation that resulted in his failure to maintain clearance from terrain. Factors to the accident were the pilot's lack of recent night experience and the hazy night conditions.

Full narrative available

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