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N8942W accident description

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Crash location 42.953611°N, 85.343333°W
Nearest city Lowell, MI
42.933643°N, 85.341961°W
1.4 miles away
Tail number N8942W
Accident date 23 Jul 2008
Aircraft type Piper PA-28-235
Additional details: None
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NTSB Factual Report

The pilot had performed 56 flights in the accident airplane from the airport in "similar" atmospheric conditions at airplane weights that equaled or exceeded the accident flight takeoff. The pilot stated that the "numerous" trees surrounding the airport and the departure end of each runway are "extremely dangerous" and provide "few, if any, options" for an uneventful aborted takeoff. During the accident takeoff on runway 30 (2,394 feet by 48 feet, dry asphalt), the airplane performed within the pilot’s expectations, but after rotation, the airplane was not climbing "normally" nor was it accelerating to best angle climb speed at the rate he previously experienced. The pilot then aborted the takeoff while the airplane was within a "few" feet above the runway because he did not want to risk hitting the trees at the departure end of the runway. The pilot was uninjured and the passenger received minor injuries. The airplane overran the runway with the application of "full" braking and impacted the trees. A post crash fire then ensued consuming the airplane. The pilot stated that he can only "speculate" that something changed after takeoff rotation that affected airplane performance. The airplane flight manual states that the takeoff distance over a 50-foot obstacle is about halfway down the runway and the calculated landing ground roll is within the remaining runway distance. The pilot stated that he used 10 degrees of flaps for the takeoff rather than 25 degrees of flaps cited in the airplane flight manual for a short field takeoff. There is no takeoff performance data based upon a 10-degree flap setting cited in the airplane flight manual.

NTSB Probable Cause

The inadequate preflight planning/preparation and the short field takeoff procedure not followed by the pilot. An additional cause was the delayed aborted takeoff by the pilot. A contributing factor was the trees.

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