The Mooney M20K pilot said he was aware that the Low Intensity Runway Lights (LIRL) at his departure airport in Laurel, Maryland, were not operational when he departed on a local flight.
When he returned to the airport later that night, he attempted to operate the LIRL, but only one side of the runway edge lights activated. He conducted a low approach to see which lights were working and then executed a go-around.
On the second approach, he planned to conduct another low approach to see if he could identify the runway paint markings.
If he saw the paint markings, he planned to continue the low approach into a landing.
During the second low approach, the airplane hit a structure that was used as a precision approach path indicator.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and both wings.
A review of the airport facility directory revealed that the LIRL lights were listed as inoperative indefinitely, but also noted to activate LIRL with common traffic advisory frequency.
Probable cause: The pilot’s improper decision to attempt a nighttime landing at an unsuitable airport, which resulted in a collision with the precision approach path indicator.
NTSB Identification: ERA15CA157
This March 2015 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.