The pilot reported that the flight departed about two hours after sunset and that, several minutes after departure, the Piper PA-28-235’s lights began to dim.
He reduced the electrical load. however, within several minutes, the airplane lost all electrical power.
He chose to continue to the destination airport, which was 21 nm from the departure airport and was within sight.
Upon reaching the airport in Brooksville, Florida, the pilot used the runway end identifier lights and the runway’s visual approach slope indicator lights to guide the plane to the runway threshold.
Due to the lack of electrical power, he was unable to use the airplane’s radio to activate the other available runway lighting or use the landing lights to help him further locate the runway after crossing the threshold.
He misjudged the airplane’s height above the runway, and, during the landing flare from an estimated height of about 4 or 5 feet, the airplane hit the runway. It then veered right, left the runway, hit an airport sign, and was substantially damaged.
A post-accident examination revealed that the alternator had failed, which likely led to the airplane’s total loss of electrical power.
Review of the airplane’s maintenance logs found that no maintenance related to the alternator had been documented in the airplane’s 50-year and 2,600-flight-hour history.
A survey of airports near the airplane’s route of flight showed no continuously lighted airports located within a reasonable distance of the airplane’s route.
The NTSB determines the probable cause as the pilot’s loss of directional control while landing at night, which resulted in a runway excursion and collision with airport signage. Contributing to the accident was the total loss of electrical power, which necessitated the pilot having to land without the aid of the airplane’s landing lights and some of the available runway lighting.
NTSB Identification: ERA14LA244
This May 2014 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.