On July 8, 2000, at 1000 Eastern Daylight Time, a Piper PA-32-300, N21072, was substantially damaged during landing roll-out at Fitchburg Municipal Airport (FIT), Fitchburg, Massachusetts. The certificated private pilot/owner was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR part 91.

In a written statement, the pilot said:

"I left Fitchburg airport at 0730 am to use [the] auto pilot [to track] VORs. At around 0930 I noticed that my alternator light was on and [the] amp meter was reading 0 amps. I decided to track back to Fitchburg. Upon arriving at the airport, I dialed in ASOS on the radio. The winds were favoring runway 02, but I noticed that airplane traffic was using [runway] 32. I set up my 45 degree entry to the downwind for runway 32. On short final on [runway] 32, I set up for [a] cross wind landing. On touchdown, my nose wheel started to veer to the right into the wind. I tried to straighten the nose wheel, but could not. At that point I knew that I was heading off the runway to the grass. I shut off the engine with the ignition switch."

Another pilot was flying in the FIT traffic pattern and observed N21072. In a written statement, he said:

"N21072 entered left downwind in front of me. [The] approach seemed normal. [The airplane] touchdown on centerline, started to drift to the left, and then skidded off the right side of the runway. The winds were 010-330 degrees, 7-8 knots."

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector performed and on scene examination on July 8, 2000. According to the inspector, the nose gear had separated from the airplane, and the propeller and firewall were damaged.

On June 25, 2000, the pilot received a high-performance-airplane endorsement in N21072 from an FAA certified flight instructor. The pilot reported 150 total flight hours, of which 40 hours were in make and model.

The pilot also reported there were no mechanical malfunctions.

The airport's reported winds at 0952 were from 020 degrees at 12 knots.

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