On May 7, 2004, at 1810 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-181 single-engine airplane, N21131, sustained substantial damage during a hard landing at the Hart Airport, near Many, Louisiana. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant and registered owner of the airplane, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and flight plan was not filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The cross-country flight departed St. Elmo Airport, near St. Elmo, Alabama, approximately 1100, and was destined for Santa Monica, California.

According to an air traffic controller with Fort Polk Army Airfield, near Folk Polk, Louisiana, the pilot became lost and radioed for assistance on a very high frequency (VHF) frequency. The controller contacted the pilot, and the pilot reported, "I'm low on fuel and somewhat lost in the Polk area." The controller directed the pilot to Hart Airport, informed him of the current wind information, and positioned the pilot to a left base to runway 12. The pilot responded, "I hope I'm doing this right." The controller lost radio and radar contact with the pilot, and then attempted to contact the pilot via another aircraft. Shortly thereafter, the controller noticed the accident airplane on radar, south of Hart Airport, and it appeared to be setting up for a landing to runway 30. The wind at the time of the accident would have given the pilot a 10 knot tailwind on runway 30. At 1810, another aircraft informed the controller the accident airplane was damaged during the landing, and the pilot was not injured.

According to the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2), the 287-hour pilot stated on the flight from Alabama to California, he "lost [the] VOR's (VHF Omnidirectional Range)." The pilot requested assistance from air traffic control and was subsequently directed to the Hart Airport. The pilot added that he "found [the] airport and made a bad landing."

According to a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, who responded to the accident site, the nose landing gear was separated, the nose gear strut was broken, and the engine firewall was buckled.

The accident was reported to the National Transportation Safety Board on May 24, 2004, about 2 weeks after the mishap occured.

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