NYC00LA088
NYC00LA088

On March 7, 2000, at 1858 Eastern Standard Time, a Piper PA-22, N9040D, was destroyed during a night precautionary landing in Conesus, New York. The certificated private pilot received serious injuries, and visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan had been filed for the flight, from the pilot's grass airstrip in Conesus, to Dansville Municipal Airport (DSV), Dansville, New York. The positioning flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

Dansville was located about 10 nautical miles south of the pilot's airstrip. According to the pilot's son, the airplane had been in storage at the pilot's airstrip during the previous winter, and was to be moved to Dansville during the day of the accident.

According to the pilot, the airplane had been refueled with 8 to 10 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel, which had been purchased at Dansville Airport, and transported to the airplane in 5-gallon jugs. The fuel was added to the airplane's left tank, the airplane was preflighted, and fuel samples were taken from both tanks, the strainer, and both wings. "No water or sediment [were] evident." The pilot completed an engine run-up, then took off towards Dansville. In one statement, the pilot wrote that during the climb, about 400 feet above the ground, he realized that the engine "wasn't running efficiently." In another statement, the pilot wrote that the engine "quit." The fuel selector had been on the left tank, "which was about half-full," so the pilot switched to the right tank. "I didn't know how much was in the right tank...but I knew there was some. The engine began to produce power again, but not full power."

At that point, the pilot decided not to continue to Dansville, because it was still about 10 miles away. He decided to land at a neighbor's unlighted airstrip, about 1 1/2 miles from the pilot's airstrip, "because his strip runs north/south and mine runs east/west...[and] it would be easier to land on his strip as it is longer, with a clearing at the end."

At the time that the pilot made his decision, the airplane was south of the neighbor's airstrip, so the pilot circled back towards the north. During the approach, while on base leg and with the "aircraft engine running," the landing light illuminated trees. "I was too low to the ground before I cleared a hedgerow...I saw a tree and I pulled up so that I would hit the tree with the belly or bottom of the fuselage, instead of hitting the tree with the nose of the plane." The next thing the pilot remembered, he was on the ground, still in the airplane.

In a statement to the Safety Board, the pilot wrote: "The time from takeoff until the accident was about 2 minutes. I was checking the engine gauges and wasn't watching my altitude closely enough." The pilot also noted that the airplane had flown 1 hour since its latest annual inspection, on September 1, 1999. In addition, he reported that, within the previous 90 days, he had flown 1.3 hours of flight time. All of that flight time was in the previous 24 hours, but not in the make and model of the accident airplane. The pilot did not report any night flight time.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector who conducted the on-scene examination, the airplane had sat outside during the winter, with a tarp over its wings. During his visit to the accident site, the inspector noted no damage to the propeller, and could not take fuel samples due to impact damage. After the airplane was removed from the accident site, the inspector made a more thorough examination. At that time, he found no mechanical malfunctions; however, he did find "corrosion and severe pitting inside the fuel bowl."

The inspector also reported that when he asked the pilot why he took off at night instead of waiting until the next day, the pilot didn't really have an answer, only that the flight was delayed from an earlier planned departure.

According to U.S. Naval Observatory calculations, sunset occurred at 1808, and the end of civil twilight occurred at 1836. The new moon set at 1948.

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