May 12, Ithaca, N.Y. / Piper Turbo Lance II


At 09:36 eastern time, a Piper PA-32RT-300 struck the ground during an instrument approach to Tompkins County Airport. The pilot and two passengers suffered minor injuries. While being vectored for the ILS Runway 32 approach, the pilot had the autopilot engaged in the heading and altitude mode. Once cleared for the approach, the pilot canceled the altitude mode and started a descent. He intercepted the final approach course using the heading mode and autopilot. As he passed the final approach fix, the pilot disengaged the autopilot. At that point he was on course and above glide slope. Published minimums for the approach are 1,349 feet msl, but the pilot said his personal minimum was 2,000 feet. With 10 degrees of flaps and the GPS indicating 82 knots groundspeed, the pilot looked outside to acquire the ground visually. Instead of seeing the ground below the airplane, he noticed it approaching from the front. The airplane struck about 2 miles from the runway, bounced back into the air and flew another 1,110 feet before coming to a stop. The pilot said he did not remember ever going below glide slope. The accident site was approximately 80 feet below the elevation of the runway, which was 1,099 feet.


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