The pilot reported that he entered a left traffic pattern for Runway 30 at the airport in Hobbs, N.M., during night, visual meteorological conditions.
Although he thought he had sufficient altitude during the initial phase of the final approach based on his altimeter indication, shortly after turning to final approach, the Piper PA-28R hit terrain.
The plane sustained substantial damage to the right wing and fuselage, but the three occupants were not injured.
Post-accident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of pre-accident mechanical failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation.
The examination did reveal that the altimeter had an incorrect setting, which resulted in an altimeter indication error of +800 feet mean sea level. The pilot stated that he must have had the incorrect altimeter setting for the destination airport.
Probable cause: The pilot’s incorrect altimeter setting during the night visual approach, which resulted in a controlled flight into terrain.
This October 2018 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.