CHI98LA040
CHI98LA040

On November 19, 1997, at 2000 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172, N92042, was destroyed when it impacted the terrain while attempting to land at the Salem Municipal Airport, Salem, Indiana. The private pilot was seriously injured. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight had departed Evansville Regional Airport, Evansville, Indiana, en route to the Airborne Airpark, Wilmington, Ohio. The pilot reported that he had been experiencing an electrical problem and had diverted to Salem Municipal Airport to make a precautionary landing. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an IFR flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported that he was returning to Wilmington, Ohio, with the airplane after it had received its annual maintenance inspection in Wellington, Kansas. The pilot reported that the airplane had a history of electrical problems, and that the voltage regulator had been replaced as part of the annual inspection. The airplane's logbook indicated that the annual inspection had been signed off on November 19, 1997, the same day as the accident flight.

The pilot reported that he had topped off the fuel at Evansville, Indiana, before continuing on to Wilmington, Ohio. He reported that the alternator circuit breaker popped during climb out and he reset it. After flying approximately twenty minutes, the pilot saw smoke curling from under the instrument panel. He reported that he was alarmed at the amount of smoke and decided to get the airplane on the ground as soon as possible. He called Louisville Approach Control and informed them about the smoke in the cockpit. Louisville Approach gave radar vectors to Salem, Indiana.

The pilot activated the runway lights by keying the airplane's radio microphone five times. He decided not to turn on the landing lights. He tried to lower the flaps, but they did not work. He reported that he thought he was high enough, but got too low and hit trees. He reported that he attempted to apply full engine power after hitting the trees, but there was no response. The pilot's only other recollection of the accident was when the people were removing him from the wreckage.

The wreckage was located about 1,000 feet east of the airport. The airplane's left wing indicated that it had impacted a tree and the airplane had spun around. Propeller marks were evident on nearby branches. Both propeller blades had leading edge and chordwise scratching. About 19 gallons of fuel was recovered by the salvage personnel.

The airplane's electrical system was examined but the reason for the electrical malfunction was not determined.

The maintenance facility which had performed the annual inspection had flown the airplane for about 4.3 hours prior to the pilot departing from Wellington, Kansas. The maintenance facility reported there were no indications of an electrical problem during the 4.3 hours of flight.

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