Failure to abort takeoff puts Cessna in cornfield

This October 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: Cessna 120. Injuries: None. Location: Falls Village, Conn. Aircraft damage: Substantial

What reportedly happened: The pilot was repositioning the tail-wheeled airplane from a 720-foot grass strip to an airport for maintenance. He computed a takeoff distance of 450 feet and completed two practice takeoff runs to verify that the plane was able to take off from the short runway. During the practice runs, with the airplane about 400 feet down the runway at an airspeed of 50 knots, the tail would rise normally and the pilot would abort the takeoff.

During the accident takeoff roll, about 400 feet down the strip, the airplane encountered a dip in the terrain and briefly became airborne. It settled back onto the runway and the pilot continued the takeoff, rotating airborne about 100 feet prior to a cornfield off the departure end of the runway. The pilot attempted to climb, but the airplane struck corn stalks and descended into terrain.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to abort the takeoff, which resulted in an in-flight collision with terrain.

For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: ERA11CA017

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