NTSB Identification: CHI07LA312.
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Accident occurred Saturday, September 29, 2007 in Waterloo, IA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/28/2008
Aircraft: Beech B35, registration: N55GW
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airplane sustained substantial damage when it impacted trees during a night visual approach for landing. The pilot contacted approach control and was told to enter a left base for runway 18, and was cleared for a VFR descent. The airplane was about 8 miles east of the airport. Flight track data indicated that the airplane approached the airport from the east and flew over the approach end of runway 24, and then flew over the control tower. The airplane flew to the southwest and then turned right and paralleled runway 30 to the northwest. The tower controller provided the pilot with a wind check, and the pilot asked if the runway lights were turned on. The pilot reported that he had the runway in sight. The tower controller re-cleared the airplane to land on runway 18. The approach controller reported that the pilot "eventually got on [a] right downwind to RY 18." The approach controller reported that he observed the airplane's red blinking light on a right base for runway 18, but then lost sight of the airplane. The accident site was located about 1.4 miles north of runway 18. The inspection of the accident site revealed that the tops of 40 - 50 foot tall trees about 100 yards northwest of the impact area had broken tree limbs where the airplane impacted the trees. The inspection of the airplane revealed no pre-impact anomalies. A review of the pilot's flight logbook indicated that he had flown 1 hour and 47 minutes of documented night flight since October 20, 1998. The most recent night flight recorded was 47 minutes logged on December 8, 2003. Official sunset on the night of the accident was at 1856.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate clearance from the trees and terrain during a night visual approach for landing. Contributing to the accident were the pilot's lack of recent night flying experience, the night conditions, and the trees.

Full narrative available

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