The pilot was conducting an instrument approach in instrument meteorological conditions to the airport in Sturgis, S.D. Upon reaching the decision altitude, the front seat passenger reported the runway was in front of the Piper PA-24.
The pilot looked up from the instruments, but could not see the runway out the windscreen or the side window.
Referring back to the flight instruments, he noted that the airplane was level, but he was unable to determine the airplane’s altitude and did not know where the airplane was in relation to the runway.
The pilot then applied full engine power and began to climb the airplane, however the right wing hit a light pole.
The airplane immediately pitched nose-down and descended into terrain.
The pilot reported the accident could have been prevented if he had immediately executed a missed approach at the decision altitude.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to execute the published missed approach procedure in a timely manner, which resulted in collision with a light pole and subsequent impact with terrain.
NTSB Identification: GAA16LA128
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.