On October 8, 1996, at 0511 hours Pacific daylight time, a Bellanca 17-30A, N28172, crashed about 1/2 mile from the airport shortly after departing runway 15 at Jackpot Airport, Jackpot, Nevada. The pilot was beginning a visual flight rules personal flight to Nampa, Idaho. The airplane, registered to and operated by the pilot, was destroyed. The certificated private pilot received serious injuries. His passenger, a recently certificated private pilot occupying the right front seat, sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

A ground witness reported that he was at his residence (about 1 mile east of the airport) with his sliding door open and heard the airplane depart about 0510. He said the engine sounded normal and loud. Moments later, he heard a loud bang and immediately went outside and saw the airplane's illuminated rotating beacon. The ground witness reported that the surface winds were light and variable and that the skies were clear. He said that the visibility exceeded 30 miles and the temperature was about 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

An FAA inspector from the Reno [Nevada] Flight Standards District Office conducted the on-scene investigation. He said that the airplane's left wing struck the ground while in a left turn. After dragging the wing, the airplane slid about 100 yards on its left side with its nose pointing toward the north. The inspector did not report that he found any airplane preexisting malfunctions or failures.

The pilot said in a telephone interview conducted on October 10, 1996, that everything appeared normal. He said that he could see the bluff south of the airport and then made a left turn. That is the last thing he could remember about the flight. He said that he could not recall if the engine was operating normally.

The passenger also said that the takeoff was normal and smooth. She said the pilot began the left turn at the normal altitude. The next thing she could remember was being in the airplane after it had crashed. She said that the engine sounded normal throughout the segment of the flight that she could remember.

According to the airport data sheet, there are terrain obstructions located about 1 mile south and west of the airport. The terrain south of runway 15 is about 200 feet above the runway and its obstruction clearance slope is 24:1. The center of town is less than a mile east of the airport. The FAA inspector reported that the pilot flew into "total darkness."

According to a computer generated Sun and Moon Information program, the altitude of the moon at the time of the accident was 23.4 degrees above the horizon with 16 percent of the moon illuminated.

Although requested to do so, the pilot did not submit the required Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report, NTSB Form 6120.1/2.

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