NTSB Identification: ERA10FA024
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 21, 2009 in Summerville, SC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/17/2011
Aircraft: PIPER PA-23-250, registration: N62635
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.

During an early morning departure, prior to sunrise, the aircraft impacted trees and terrain immediately after takeoff. Witnesses reported the sound of the engines were loud, although they did not observe the airplane take off. A postaccident examination of the airplane and engines revealed no mechanical discrepancies that would have precluded normal operation. The damage to both propeller assemblies was consistent with impact and fire damage. Although the forward baggage door had a gouge mark, it was not consistent with a baggage door coming in contact with a propeller blade in flight. The circumstances of the accident are potentially consistent with an incapacitating event involving this pilot, particularly, given evidence of coronary artery disease during the postmortem examination, or with spatial disorientation given the circumstances of the flight. The pilot was taking off during dark lighting conditions, over a dark unpopulated area. The absence of external visual cues and the accelerations associated with the takeoff and initial climb could have led to erroneous sensations of the airplaneā€™s attitude which, if not effectively managed by the pilot, could explain the circumstances of the accident. There is insufficient evidence, however, to allow a conclusive determination as to which scenario, if either, actually occurred.

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

Flight into terrain for undetermined reasons.

Full narrative available

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