NTSB Identification: CEN13FA067
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 21, 2012 in Hillsdale, MI
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-180, registration: N40781
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 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.

On November 21, 2012, approximately 1820 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-180, N40781, registered to the pilot, impacted trees and terrain while on approach to the Hillsdale Municipal Airport (JYM), Hillsdale, Michigan. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. Night visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed in the vicinity and a flight plan was not filed for the cross country flight being conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated about 1700 from the Lebanon-Warren County Airport, Lebanon, Ohio.

Minutes prior to the accident, about 18 miles from the airport, the pilot contacted Hillsdale on UNICOM frequency and requested that the lights for runway 28 be turned on. The airport manager who was monitoring the UNICOM turned on the lights. He reported that the pilot sounded normal and estimated the weather conditions at the time of the call to be marginal VMC with haze.

Official sunset at Hillsdale was 1713 and official twilight was 1743.

The airplane wreckage was found about 1.25 miles east of the approach end of runway 28 at JYM. The initial impact points were found about 60 feet above the ground in trees. The debris path extended about 700 feet through the trees and the airplane was found resting on its left side, with the engine embedded in the ground at a shallow angle. The approximate heading of the path through the trees was 255 degrees magnetic. The fuselage and empennage section were found primarily intact with its left wing separated and folded under the aft portion of the fuselage. Local law enforcement officers who initially responded to the accident site confirmed a strong odor of fuel within the wreckage.

The aircraft wreckage was recovered from the scene and relocated to a secure hangar at the Lenawee County airport (ADG) on November 23, 2012.

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