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N54517 accident description

Michigan map... Michigan list
Crash location 44.625000°N, 86.200833°W
Nearest city Frankfort, MI
44.633610°N, 86.234540°W
1.8 miles away
Tail number N54517
Accident date 08 Aug 2004
Aircraft type Cessna 305A
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On August 8, 2004, at 1355 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 305A, N54517, was destroyed by post-impact fire after it impacted the terrain during takeoff climb from the Frankfort Dow Memorial Field Airport (FKS), Frankfort, Michigan. The pilot received minor injuries. The 14 CFR Part 91 glider aero-tow flight was departing FKS on a local flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. No flight plan was filed.

The Cessna pilot reported that he was departing the grass airstrip adjacent to FKS runway 33 (4,050 feet by 75 feet) with a Schleicher AS-K13 glider, N14AA, in tow. He reported that during the takeoff ground run, the glider aborted the takeoff by releasing the tow line. He reported that the tow plane "suddenly yawed 45 degrees" to the left and veered off the left side of the grass airstrip and "crossed a marsh/wetland area" southwest of the runway. He reported the airplane was still at full power and was at minimum controllable airspeed. The pilot reported he attempted to climb over a tree line, but the airplane had "insufficient airspeed and stalled." The airplane impacted the terrain and caught fire. The tow airplane utilized had a five point pilot restraint harness and the pilot received minor injuries. The pilot exited the airplane before the airplane was consumed by fire.

The pilot of the glider reported that the lift off was later than normal and that the glider did not achieve "total lift off." He reported that the gliders were "lifting off the ground slightly long all day." He reported that the tow plane was veering to the left side of the airstrip and toward the embankment that led to the marsh. The glider was positioned to the right side of the tow plane. He reported he aborted the glider's takeoff so that the tow plane could "handle its takeoff or try to get control." He reported the glider rolled out on the airstrip without damage.

At 1415, the observed weather at Manistee (MBL), Michigan, located approximately 28 nautical miles south of FKS, was: wind 250 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, scattered clouds 4,800 feet, temperature 23 degrees C, dew point 12 degrees C, altimeter 30.06 inches of mercury.

The glider pilot reported the wind was from the south which produced a 5 knot tailwind. A witness reported that the wind at 1130 was 110 degrees at 10 knots gusting to 15 knots.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector reported the total distance the tow plane traveled from the beginning of the takeoff roll to where the glider aborted the takeoff was about 350 feet. He reported the tow plane was about 25-30 feet from the left edge of the airstrip when the glider aborted. He reported the tow plane traveled about 150-175 feet through the tall grass before it lifted off and attempted flight. The tree line was located approximately 250 feet from the point of lift off.

NTSB Probable Cause

The tow pilot failed to maintain directional control during takeoff roll and failed to abort the takeoff. Additionally, the tow pilot failed to attain adequate airspeed which resulted in a stall. The tailwind and the tall grass were contributing factors.

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