NTSB Identification: ERA09CA508
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, September 03, 2009 in Charlottesville, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/15/2009
Aircraft: MOONEY 231, registration: N75PW
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot performed a successful landing during night visual conditions, about 30 minutes after sunset at the destination airport. He taxied off the runway onto a perpendicular taxiway, and was instructed by the ground controller to "taxi to the ramp." The pilot stated that he was "unable to make out any features on the ground," due to the darkness. He observed the Fixed Base Operator (FBO) directly in front of him and proceeded straight ahead, not realizing there was a strip of grass separating the taxiway and the FBO. The airplane exited the taxiway and continued down a grassy slope between the ramp and taxiway. During the excursion from the taxiway, the propeller and the tail of the airplane struck the ground, resulting in substantial damage. The pilot did not report any mechanical malfunctions with the airplane. He stated that the accident could have been prevented if he had studied the airport diagram and identified the grassy area.

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

The pilot’s inadequate preflight planning and lack of familiarity with the airport diagram, which resulted in a runway excursion onto a grassy area.

Full narrative available

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