On August 16, 2002, about 1230 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA32-300, N20787, was substantially damaged while landing at the Chatham Municipal Airport (CQX), Chatham, Massachusetts. The certificated airline transport pilot was not injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight that departed Hartford, Connecticut. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot reported he performed an "NDB" approach to runway 6, a 3,001 foot-long, asphalt runway. He was in and out of clouds, but maintained visual contact with the runway. When the airplane was about 600 feet over the approach end of runway 6, he began a left turn and entered the traffic pattern for runway 24. While on final approach, at an altitude of about 300 feet, the pilot lost visual contact with the runway. The pilot said he was "too low and slow to do a missed approach and attempted to land." The airplane touched down "too far down" the runway and the pilot was unable to stop before the airplane departed the end of the runway, traveled down an embankment, and collided with trees.

A witness at the airport stated he observed the airplane on approach "going in and out of a 400 to 500 foot ceiling." The airplane touched down approximately 2,000 feet beyond the approach end of the runway. He lost sight of the airplane, and heard the sound of braking, followed by the sound of "full power being applied and crunching trees."

The pilot reported he did not experience any mechanical malfunctions.

The weather reported CQX, at 1252, included: winds from 200 degrees at 12 knots, with 18 knot gusts; 10 miles visibility; and an overcast ceiling at 500 feet.

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