During a cross-country flight at night, the pilot was attempting to deviate due to deteriorating weather. He failed to maintain terrain clearance and the Piper PA-34 hit the top of a tree.
The pilot subsequently landed the airplane uneventfully at the airport in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, about 23 miles away from where the tree was hit.
Examination of the airplane by an FAA inspector revealed damage to the wings and windshield.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain altitude in cruise flight due to his diverted attention, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain.
NTSB Identification: ERA16CA105
This February 2016 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.