IAD01LA020
IAD01LA020

On December 18, 2000, at 2127 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172M, N789FW, was substantially damaged during a runway overrun and collision with a ditch at the Flying W Airport (N14), Medford, New Jersey. The certificated private pilot and passenger were not injured. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, the purpose of the flight was to view New York City from the air, fly around the Statue of Liberty, and return to Flying W. He said the first portion of the flight was uneventful, and that the airplane performed well. The pilot said that the airplane developed electrical problems during the return trip. According to the pilot:

"We were about 15 miles from Flying W when the radios went dead. The navigation radios went dead and the ammeter was showing a drain. I shut off everything but the navigation lights. I wanted to save enough energy to click on the runway lights. We were over (Interstate) 95, so I knew where we were, and we had no trouble getting back.

When we got there, I turned the power on and got nothing. I switched the radios back on, but there was no power and I couldn't activate the runway lights. My passenger shined a flashlight on the instruments, but they were hard to see because of the glare. It was kind of blinding me. Because we had no navigation lights at this point, I decided to land at Flying W.

I overflew the runway, and came back around for landing. I picked up the VASI and saw that I was high, so I slipped it down. I couldn't use the flaps. I was going a little fast (75-80 knots), and ended up gliding a little longer than I thought. We touched down about half-way down the runway at about 70 to 75 knots. I pumped the brakes, but we went off the end and into the grass. It was slick, and about 100 feet past the end of Runway 19 is a 20-foot ditch.

I couldn't get the lights on, I couldn't use the flaps, and the runway was hard to see. It was pitch black."

The passenger provided a written statement, and his description of events was consistent with the pilot's.

Runway 19 was 3,496 feet long and 75 feet wide. Interpolation of a short field landing distance performance chart in the Cessna 172 Owner's Manual revealed that the distance required to land over a 50-foot obstacle with no flaps deployed was 1,687 feet.

The pilot's private pilot certificate was issued December 17, 2000. He reported 47 hours of total flight experience, all of which were in the Cessna 172. The pilot reported 3.5 hours of flight experience at night. The pilot further stated that he had received his flight training at Flying W airport, but had never performed a no-flaps approach there.

In a telephone interview, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness inspector said that a test of the airplane's electrical system revealed that the voltage regulator was inoperative. The pilot stated that, other than the loss of electrical power, the airplane exhibited no mechanical deficiencies.

The weather reported at McGuire AFB, 11 miles northeast of Flying W, was few clouds at 20,000 feet with 7 miles of visibility. The winds were from 250 degrees at 3 knots.

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