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N6777W accident description

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Crash location 41.685277°N, 70.402222°W
Nearest city Marstons Mills, MA
41.656220°N, 70.416136°W
2.1 miles away
Tail number N6777W
Accident date 10 Sep 2005
Aircraft type Piper PA-28-140
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On September 10, 2005, about 1110 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140, N6777W, was substantially damaged during impact with trees, while departing Cape Cod Airport (2B1), Marstons Mills, Massachusetts. The certificated private pilot and a passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight destined to Plymouth, Massachusetts. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot stated that one day prior to the accident, he had his airplane fueled to approximately 3/4-full. He estimated about 20 gallons of fuel in each tank during the accident takeoff. The fuel selector was positioned to the left tank, and the flaps were extended "two notches." The pilot performed a takeoff on runway 9, a 2,700-foot-long, 60-foot-wide, turf runway. During the takeoff, the pilot rotated the airplane, but it settled back to the ground. He then lowered the nose and rotated again. The airplane became airborne, but did not seem like it would clear trees at the end of the runway. The pilot thought that the engine may have been producing less power, and possibly "sputtered." He turned right to avoid trees, but the airplane stalled and impacted the trees.

A witness, who was also a pilot, observed the accident takeoff. The witness stated that the pilot, "yanked the aircraft off at a steep angle," and the airplane settled back on the runway. The pilot then "yanked it off again and then held it at a nose up attitude and flew in ground effect until he went over the trees. "

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the right fuel tank was compromised, and the left fuel tank appeared intact. No fuel was observed in the left fuel tank, and the propeller sustained little rotational damage. However, a witness at the airport reported a "steady stream" of fuel leaking from the gascolator for approximately 15 minutes following the accident.

On November 9, 2005, a test run of the engine was conducted under the supervision of an FAA inspector. The engine started after approximately six revolutions, and ran continuously at idle power. The engine was then shut down to repair a fuel leak from a damaged carburetor. The engine then restarted without hesitation, and ran at 2,000 rpm for about 5 minutes, and then 2,350 rpm for 5 seconds. Due to a vibration from the damaged propeller, engine power was reduced after 5 seconds.

The reported weather, at an airport about 6 miles west of the accident site, at 1055, was: wind from 320 degrees at 9 knots; visibility 15 miles; few clouds at 3,000 feet; temperature 68 degrees F; dew point 45 degrees F; altimeter 30.20 inches Hg.

Review of an Owner's Handbook, for the same make and model as the accident airplane, revealed that the useful load was 770 pounds. According to data provided by the pilot and an FAA inspector, the weight of the occupants plus fuel was approximately 670 pounds.

Review of a performance chart in the Owner's Handbook revealed that the airplane required approximately 1,600 feet of runway to clear a 50-foot obstacle, at a density altitude of 500 feet; however, the performance chart did not factor a turf runway or tailwind.

Review of FAA-H-8083-3, Airplane Flying Handbook, revealed:

"The airplane is allowed to fly off the ground while in this normal takeoff attitude. Forcing it into the air by applying excessive back-elevator pressure would only result in an excessively high pitch attitude and may delay the takeoff...Although the airplane can be forced into the air, this is considered an unsafe practice and should be avoided under normal circumstances. If the airplane is forced to leave the ground by using too much back-elevator pressure before flying speed is attained, the wing's angle of attack may be excessive, causing the airplane to settle back to the runway or even stall..."

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to attain a climb during takeoff which resulted in a diminished climb rate and subsequent collision with trees. Factors were the turf runway and a tailwind.

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