January 30, 2009, Huntington, W.V., Piper PA-34-200T


The airplane was destroyed at 1336 Eastern time when it struck high-tension power lines and collided with terrain while maneuvering for landing. The private pilot, a student pilot, and four passengers were fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; no flight plan was filed.

Preliminary FAA data revealed the accident airplane contacted ATC shortly after 1300 by transmitting a “Mayday” call, advising it was low on fuel and needed to land. The pilot reported he was capable of instrument flight. During the next 30 minutes, ATC attempted to vector the airplane. At no time did the accident airplane acquire or maintain any of the altitudes or headings assigned by ATC; its pilot was largely unresponsive to the controllers requests and instructions. At one point, the controller asked again if he was capable of instrument flight. The pilot replied, “No.”


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