November 1, 2008, Plymouth, N.C., Piper PA-32-260/Piper PA-28-236


At about 1130 Eastern time, a Piper Cherokee Six and a Piper Dakota were substantially damaged when they collided in mid-air about five nautical miles north of the Ply-mouth Municipal Airport (PMZ). The private pilot aboard the Cherokee Six and the private pilot in the Dakota suffered minor injuries. Both airplanes were operating in visual conditions. The Cherokee Six pilot was practicing the GPS Runway 21 approach, using the autopilot. The Dakota pilot was inbound to PMZ and navigating via GPS.

As the Cherokee Six proceeded inbound about seven miles from the runway, an airplane back-taxiing to Runway 21 announced its intention to depart to the southeast. The Cherokee Six pilot stated his position, advised he should not be a factor and descended to 1600 feet MSL. On reaching the final approach fix, the autopilot intercepted the glideslope, and the airplane began to descend.

Meanwhile, the Dakota was about seven miles from the airport, and 2000 feet MSL. Its pilot announced his position. In response, the departing pilot announced he was performing an engine runup on Runway 21. The Dakota pilot responded that he was four miles from the airport. The Dakota pilot made another call to ensure the runway was clear, and shortly thereafter, the pilot heard a loud noise and the airplane began a descent. The airplane descended into a tree, spun around, and came to rest in another tree, upside down, about eight feet off the ground.

As the Cherokee Six pilot began his descent, “almost instantly” there was a loud bang on the right side of the airplane. The airplane entered a right spin, which the pilot recovered about 150 feet above a river, in which he landed. Neither pilot was initially aware another airplane was involved. Both pilots noted they never heard the other pilot on the frequency or saw the other airplane.

Weather recorded 14 nm northeast included clear skies and visibility 10 sm.


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