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The aircraft arrived at the destination strip about 40 minutes after last light. Weather conditions in the area were good, with light winds and clear skies, however the night was very dark and there was no visible horizon. Witnesses on the ground reported that the aircraft seemed to be at a normal height on the crosswind leg and as it turned onto downwind. However, it was then seen to enter a gradual but steady descent. About half way along the downwind leg, the lights of the aircraft were lost to sight. The aircraft impacted the ground in a straight and level attitude, bounced 118 metres, and then bounced and skidded for a further 216 metres before coming to rest. No fault was subsequently found with the aircraft which might have contributed to the development of the accident. The pilot lacked recent experience in night operations. He had made only two night flights in the previous 32 months, the most recent being some 11 months prior to the accident. On the downwind leg of the circuit, the pilot had apparently not increased engine power after the gear was lowered. He had also been concentrating on his position relative to the flare path, and had evidently paid insufficient attention to the height of the aircraft.

Download Final Report
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General details
Date: 09 June 1986 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1556  
Location:3 km West Barraba Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: New South Wales Occurrence type: Collision with terrain 
Release date: 28 August 1986 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Serious 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Piper Aircraft Corp 
Aircraft model: PA-24 
Aircraft registration: VH-RJY 
Type of operation: Private 
Damage to aircraft: Destroyed 
Departure point:Canberra ACT
Departure time:1556
Destination:Barraba NSW
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Last update 13 May 2014