NTSB Identification: WPR10CA035
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 29, 2009 in Angwin, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/03/2010
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-140, registration: N1721T
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 reported that he positioned the airplane for the night takeoff approximately 1/4-mile from the start of Runway 34. He attempted to activate the runway lights using the radio; however, he had selected an incorrect frequency. He used his landing light and positioned the airplane where he believed the runway was located. As the airplane approached 65 miles per hour, he saw grass and dirt. His passenger requested that he stop the airplane; however, the pilot felt that his options were better if he continued the takeoff. The passenger continued to request that he stop the airplane and the groundspeed was about 80 miles per hour. The pilot further reported that the passenger’s seat was positioned further back than his and that the passenger was pulling the yoke aft and her feet were pushing on the rudder pedals. The airplane then impacted a fence. Later activation of the airport lighting system revealed no operational anomalies when the correct radio frequency was selected.

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

The pilot's failure to properly identify the runway surface for takeoff and his subsequent failure to abort the takeoff when he realized he was not on the runway. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to select the appropriate radio frequency to activate the runway lights.

Full narrative available

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