Maule stalls on departure

This April 2010 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: Maule M5-235C. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Zellwood, Fla. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: After an engine run-up, the pilot taxied onto the runway and commenced his takeoff roll. The airplane lifted off on the first third of the runway. After liftoff the airplane turned in the approximate direction of the pilot’s destination airport. One witness stated they saw what appeared to be a thin trail of smoke trailing from the airplane.

Another witness heard a popping sound coming from the airplane. The airplane then reached an altitude of approximately 60 feet above ground level, and leveled off. The smoking stopped. Upon approaching a tree line that ran perpendicular to the right side of the runway, the airplane began to climb. The airplane cleared the trees by approximately 50 feet, stalled, then spun to ground, crashed and burst into flames.

A post-accident examination of the airplane and engine revealed no evidence of any pre-impact failure or malfunction of the airplane or engine. However, after the accident flight it was reported to the NTSB that it may have had a preexisting engine issue. Investigators determined that the smoke may have been residual oil being burned off from a replacement of the oil cooler, which occurred 16 days before the accident, recent engine oil servicing, seepage of oil past the seals or rings while the airplane was parked, or a richer than normal mixture due to the atmospheric conditions that existed at the time. The popping that may have been heard could also have been caused by a richer than normal mixture.

Had the pilot flown a normal departure, which continues straight ahead along the extended runway centerline and continues until reaching a point at least 1/2 mile beyond the departure end of the runway and within 300 feet of the traffic pattern altitude, he would have avoided the treeline.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed while maneuvering after takeoff, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall, loss of aircraft control, and collision with trees.

For more information: NTSB Identification: ERA10FA232.



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