LAX03LA079
LAX03LA079

On January 31, 2003, at 1836 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-28-140, N6087W, collided with terrain during the approach to landing at Tehachapi, California. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The private pilot and one passenger sustained minor injuries; the airplane was substantially damaged. The personal cross-country flight departed Long Beach (LGB), California, about 1700, en route to Benton Field (085), Redding, California, but diverted to Tehachapi due to weather en route and at Redding. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

In a written statement the pilot said he was on a VFR flight to 085. During the flight he discovered the weather at 085 was in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) so he decided to divert to Tehachapi to wait for the weather to improve. He flew over the airport at 7,500 feet to check the wind T, which indicated runway 11 was the preferred landing runway. His flight guide specified right-hand traffic for runway 11.

The pilot entered the right traffic pattern on a 45 for runway 11. After turning on right downwind he heard the mike "keyed" several times. Because of this, he felt another airplane might be in the area. He extended his downwind leg, looking for the other airplane. He did not see or hear any other airplanes. He then proceeded to turn right base and then final. The pilot saw the runway lights and began a standard descent.

While on final approach, he observed a red light just slightly left of the airplane's windscreen. He immediately flew the airplane to the right, away from the light. Moments later, the airplane impacted the ground. Initially the pilot thought he had hit another airplane, but knew otherwise when dirt entered the cockpit. He said the airplane first hit on the nosewheel. The propeller then contacted the ground and the airplane rolled. The pilot stated that the airplane traveled approximately 100 yards from the point of impact and came to rest inverted.

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