CHI99LA038
CHI99LA038

On November 24, 1998, at 2050 eastern standard time, a Piper PA- 28R-200, N5256T, operated by a private pilot collided with the terrain while taxiing for takeoff at the Houghton County Memorial Airport, Hancock, Michigan. The pilot was not injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions. The pilot was intending to fly to Pellston, Michigan.

The pilot reported that he was making his long cross country flight to fulfill the requirements for his commercial rating when the accident occurred. He departed Bay City, Michigan, and flew to the Hancock, Michigan, as the first leg of his cross country. The pilot stated that after landing at the Houghton County Memorial Airport he taxied to terminal area where he parked the airplane, obtained fuel, and filed flight plans for the remainder of the trip. He stated he then boarded the airplane and began taxiing toward runway 13/31. The pilot continued to report, "I had the mistaken impression that there was a wide open flat area between the terminal building and the beginning of the taxiway (as there is at Bay City). This wide open area was unlit, and after taxiing straight toward the runway for about 20 or 30 feet, the plane began rolling downhill at about a 45 degree angle for about 10 feet, with the engine running, until it stopped abruptly."

The airplane came to rest in a 45 degree nose down attitude at the bottom of a 10 foot deep ditch. The accident site was approximately 120 feet from the end of the ramp area, between the ramp and taxiway "C".

The pilot reported he had practiced approaches at the Houghton County Memorial Airport in the past, but had never landed there. He reported the area he taxied into was not lit. The pilot reported "Lack of situational awareness on my part and a failure to stop immediately when I had taxied away from pavement and onto grass are, in my opinion, the main causes of this accident." The taxiway lights were lit at the time of the accident.

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