Aircraft: Piper Cherokee. Injuries: 1 Serious. Location: Beatty, Nev. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The accident happened during a night flight. The pilot reported that a temporary flight restriction (TFR) was in effect for his intended airport and that he was unclear on whether the TFR would prevent him from landing at that airport.
The TFR stated that transit operations were allowed only if a discrete code was assigned by air traffic control before the airplane’s departure. The pilot mistakenly thought he could pick up the discrete code while airborne.
Because the pilot was unable to contact ATC at his intended destination during the flight and the airplane was running low on fuel, he diverted to an alternate airport.
At the alternate airport, he initiated a straight-in approach to the runway in darkness, over flat, featureless terrain. He reported that the only airport lighting he saw was the airport beacon.
During the approach, the airplane struck high tension power lines about a mile south of the runway. Further, according to a NOTAM in effect at the time of the accident, the airport that the pilot diverted to was closed.
Investigators determined that he most likely flew a lower than desired approach altitude due to the night time conditions and featureless terrain.
Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate flight planning, subsequent loss of situational awareness, and failure to maintain clearance from the power lines during a dark night approach to a closed, unlit runway.
NTSB Identification: WPR13FA001
This October 2012 accident report is are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.