NTSB Identification: ERA10CA337
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, June 28, 2010 in Great Barrington, MA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/18/2011
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-181, registration: N30062
Injuries: 2 Serious.

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 departed his home airport at night, in fog, and returned on an instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance. He stated that the return flight was routine and the air traffic controller cleared him for the approach into the airport. The pilot then canceled his IFR clearance, descended visually, and entered a left traffic pattern to land. The pilot stated that he entered the downwind leg for a "tighter than normal" pattern to avoid the fog at the approach end of the runway; however, global positioning system data revealed a spiraling descent in the vicinity of the base leg of the traffic pattern. The pilot stated that not seeing the terrain surrounding the airport while having the airport in sight lulled him into the belief that he was on or near glide path when, in fact, he was much lower, causing the controlled flight into terrain. The airplane incurred substantial damage to the left wing and left side of the fuselage. The pilot reported that there were no mechanical failures or malfunctions of the airplane. Airports 15 miles north and 10 miles west each reported ceilings less than 100 feet, and visibility less than a half mile, and witnesses surrounding the airport described the fog as heavy with visibility of less than 100 feet.

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

The pilot's attempted visual flight into night instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in spatial disorientation and subsequent controlled flight into terrain.

Full narrative available

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