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N4595T accident description

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Crash location 43.313889°N, 83.696111°W
Nearest city Frankenmuth, MI
43.331691°N, 83.738019°W
2.4 miles away
Tail number N4595T
Accident date 20 May 2012
Aircraft type Piper PA-28-180
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On May 20, 2012, at 1720 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-180, N4595T, collided with the terrain shortly after takeoff from the Wm "Tiny" Zehnder Field (66G), Frankenmuth, Michigan. The private pilot was not injured and three passengers received minor injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. The 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated just prior to the accident and the planned destination was the Plymouth-Mettetal Airport (1D2), Plymouth, Michigan.

The pilot reported the engine performed normally during a pre-takeoff engine run-up. The trim was set for takeoff and 25 degrees of flaps were extended prior to taking off. The pilot applied the brakes and advanced the throttle prior to releasing the brakes to begin the takeoff. He reported he applied back pressure on the control yoke and the airplane lifted off in the first half of the runway length. He stayed in ground effect as the airspeed reached Vx 74 knots and then began the climb at a speed of Vy 85 knots. The engine operated normally during this period.

The pilot reported that a few seconds after the airplane departed ground effect, he then noticed the airplane was not climbing as “strongly”. He then noticed a “dramatic” decrease in the airplane’s rate of climb. At this point the pilot retracted the flaps and noticed the engine power had decreased to 2,000 rpm. The pilot verified that the mixture was full rich and he cycled the throttle control with no increase in engine power.

The pilot reported that because of the high pitch attitude and the decrease in engine power, the left wing began to stall. He banked the airplane to the left toward a wheat field to avoid the powerlines and trees ahead. The airplane began a rapid descent. The pilot reduced the engine power to idle, extended 25 degrees of flaps, and applied back pressure on the control yoke to lessen the impact. The airplane impacted the terrain and cartwheeled prior to coming to rest inverted which resulted in substantial damage to the wings, fuselage, and empennage.

A postaccident examination of the engine was conducted. The examination did not reveal any mechanical failure/malfunction that would have resulted in a loss of engine power.

The takeoff was made on runway 09, a 2,530 foot long grass airstrip that contained 4-inch high grass. The high tension wires and the trees are approximately 3,680 feet and 4,000 feet from the end of the runway respectively.

The pilot provided a copy of the weight and balance calculations he made prior to the flight. The empty weight used by the pilot was 138 pounds less than the empty weight listed on the latest weight and balance information for the airplane. Calculations which used the correct empty weight along with the loading information provided by the pilot indicate the airplane was within the center of gravity envelope and 71 pounds under maximum gross weight.

The pilot reported having a total of 74.7 hours of flight time, 10.2 hours of which were in the accident make and model airplane.

Weather conditions recorded at the Saginaw-Browne Airport (MBS), located about 15 miles northwest of the accident site, at 1753, were: wind 170 degrees at 11 knots gusting to 16 knots; clear sky; visibility 10 miles; temperature 31 degrees Celsius; dew point 11 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 30.01 inches of mercury. According to the Federal Aviation Administration probability of carburetor icing chart a possibility carburetor icing existed at glide and cruise power. The accident airport elevation was 645 feet. Based on the local weather data, the corresponding density altitude was about 1,930 feet.

NTSB Probable Cause

A partial loss of engine power for undetermined reasons and the pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.

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