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N43078 accident description

New Hampshire map... New Hampshire list
Crash location 42.968334°N, 70.828334°W
Nearest city Hampton, NH
42.939257°N, 70.834220°W
2.0 miles away
Tail number N43078
Accident date 14 Jun 2015
Aircraft type Piper PA28
Additional details: None
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NTSB Factual Report

On June 14, 2015, about 0930 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140, N43078, impacted trees and terrain shortly after takeoff from Hampton Airfield (7B3), Hampton, New Hampshire. The private pilot and one passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged by impact forces and a postcrash fire. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the planned flight to Biddeford Airport (B19), Biddeford, Maine. The airplane was owned and operated by the private pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight.

According to the pilot, on the morning of the accident he had fueled the airplane at B19, and performed a "full run-up and normal takeoff" for the flight to 7B3. The takeoff, all systems, and flight characteristics appeared normal. After landing at 7B3, he taxied to the ramp and shut the airplane down. He did not refuel at 7B3, and a short time later he and his passenger embarked and taxied to runway 02, where he performed another engine run-up, with no anomalies noted. He indicated that the takeoff, and all systems including the airspeed, appeared normal. He said that the airplane lifted off at 65 knots, but it would not climb. He asked the passenger to read the emergency checklist, and verified that the mixture was rich, the throttle was full, the fuel selector was on the fullest tank, the fuel pump was on, and the carburetor heat was off. He attempted to keep the airplane level; however, he raised the nose at the last minute as they approached a tree line. The airplane cleared the initial tree line; however, subsequently descended into the wooded area.

According to a witness, as the airplane lifted off from the runway, it appeared to have a "high angle of attack," and it looked as though it was "mushing through the air" after takeoff. During the initial climb the pitch attitude decreased briefly, and then increased before the airplane reached a tree line. After clearing the trees, the nose lowered and the airplane disappeared out of sight. The witness further stated that he did not hear a loss of engine power at any time. Another witness stated that when the airplane lifted off the ground, its "nose was too vertical." The witness thought the airplane would not climb above the trees in the nose-up position; however, it cleared the tree tops and was "nearly vertical" when it began to lose altitude.

Review of airport surveillance video also revealed that the airplane lifted off and remained in a nose-up attitude.

Examination of the wreckage, at the scene, by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the airplane impacted a wooded area about 2,000 feet from the departure end of the runway and slightly right of the extended runway centerline. The fuselage came to rest upright in a nose down attitude with the engine and nose section embedded in soil. Both wings were separated from the fuselage.

A postaccident examination of the airplane and engine was conducted by an FAA inspector and representative from the engine manufacturer. One propeller blade exhibited chordwise scratching and leading-edge gouging. When the engine crankshaft was rotated by hand, continuity was confirmed on all cylinders, valves, and accessory gears. Thumb compression and suction was verified on each cylinder. The spark plugs were removed and examined; each displayed little or no wear and were light gray/black/oily in color. The carburetor bowl was removed and was found to be free of debris.

Control cable continuity was established from each aileron though fractures, consistent with tensile overload, to the cockpit area. The stabilator and rudder were removed during salvage recovery efforts, and the flight control cables were cut by recovery personnel. However, cable continuity was confirmed from the cockpit area to the rudder and stabilator.

Examination of the stabilator trim indicator in the cockpit revealed that the trim was in the full nose up position. Examination of the stabilator trim jackscrew revealed 16 exposed threads, which equated to a full nose-up position. Review of a takeoff checklist from a make and model pilot operating manual revealed "Trim tab – set."

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot’s failure to properly set the stabilator trim prior to takeoff, which resulted in an exceedance of the airplane’s critical angle of attack and an aerodynamic stall during takeoff.

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