Poor decisions kill five

Aircraft: Cessna 180. Injuries: 5 Fatal. Location: Chugiak, Alaska. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot and four passengers departed on a cross country flight. According to witnesses on the ground, during the takeoff roll the airplane went off the left side of the runway before lifting off in a very nose-high attitude.

Once aloft, it headed toward a row of trees on the east side of the airport. The airplane climbed over the trees, turned to the south, and then quickly rolled right and crashed to the ground and burned.

The post-accident examination of the airplane revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

The pilot’s logbook indicated he had about four hours experience in the accident airplane, and, according to his logbook entries, he had not flown since June 12, 2010, after receiving instruction in the airplane, so he did not meet the FAA’s recent experience requirement for the required number of takeoff and landings to carry passengers.

The airplane’s estimated gross weight at the time of the accident was about 243 pounds over its approved maximum takeoff weight.

Given the witness accounts of the airplane swerving off the runway during the takeoff roll, and of its subsequent nose-high attitude and rapid roll prior to impact, investigators determined that it is likely that the pilot lost control during the takeoff roll and then applied excessive nose-up pitch to become airborne. Once airborne, he failed to attain sufficient airspeed to avoid an aerodynamic stall, and the airplane descended out of control to the ground.

Probable cause: The pilot’s loss of control during takeoff, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s lack of experience in make and model, his lack of currency in FAA required takeoffs and landings, and his excessive loading of the airplane.

NTSB Identification: ANC11FA037

This May 2011 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.


  1. Vaughn S. Price says

    I blame this mans original Instructor for allowing him to get the big head. He obviously was unaware of his real level of proficiency. I always told my graduates that they were only on the bottom rung, passing the FAA tests just barely gets you to the point where you can stick somebody else’s neck out. I laid off flying for 45 years and had no trouble getting recurrent in an Aeronca 7-AC and Cessna 172, 162,152, and shot a takeoff and landing in a DC-3. of course I knew exactly where I was on the ladder I have flown over 139 different makes and models, and the 180 is just an old rocking chair

    • says

      The 180 is a wonderful airplane and can when necessary handle a couple hundred ‘extra’ pounds but it must be flown with one’s full attention, especially on and near the ground!
      I had a co-pilot once who simply could not accomplish a takeoff in our Lockheed Lodestar, his landings were (barely) passable but he just didn’t have the right coordination or something that’s needed to maintain directional control on a taildragger while building up to liftoff speed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *