Overloaded airplane crashes

This June 2007 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Globe Swift.
Location: Cottage Grove, Ore.
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The owner purchased the airplane in February 2006. Prior to the purchase, the 1948 Globe Swift had spent 20 years in a hangar and had not been flown at all. A number of inspections, adjustments, and component replacements were performed to prepare the airplane for an annual inspection and return it to airworthy status. The inspection was completed July 1, 2006, and the airplane was signed off as airworthy. At the time of the accident, the airplane had been flown five hours since the annual inspection.

According to witnesses, the takeoff was normal, but when the airplane was about 1,500 feet past the departure end of the runway, the engine sputtered, then sounded as if it was surging. The airplane rolled sharply to the left and descended into a small shallow pond about a half mile from the runway.

Based on the weight of the occupants and the fuel load, investigators determined that the airplane was approximately 130 pounds over the maximum allowable gross weight. Examination of the airframe and engine did not identify a reason for the loss of engine power.

Probable cause: The loss of engine power during the initial climb for undetermined reasons and the pilot’s failure to maintain an airspeed above stall speed while maneuvering following the power loss. Contributing to the accident was the operation of the airplane at a weight above Maximum Certified Gross Weight.

For more information: NTSB.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20070801X01078&key=1.

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