Four injured after pilot overloads airplane

Aircraft: Beech F33A. Injuries: 2 Serious, 2 Minor. Location: Tarentum, Penn. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The airplane was one of several involved in a Young Eagles event that day to introduce students to general aviation. According to witnesses, the airplane began its takeoff roll at the approach end of runway 17, which was 3,550 feet long. The airplane swerved as it slowed, and then overran the departure end of the runway and down an embankment. Skid marks began approximately 712 feet prior to the end of the runway.

The pilot declined to be interviewed, and did not provide a written statement. According to FAA records, he had approximately 2,300 total hours of flight experience, of which 1,700 hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane. This included 12 hours of flight time in the 30 days prior to the accident.

After the accident, weight and balance calculations revealed the estimated weight of the airplane at takeoff was 3,830 pounds, which was 230 pounds above the maximum allowable gross weight. The accelerate/stop distance calculated for the airplane’s takeoff weight was 2,483 feet. Based on the length of the runway and the calculated accelerate/stop distance, the pilot should have been able to abort the takeoff in time to avoid an overrun.

Probable cause: The pilot’s delay in aborting the takeoff, which resulted in a runway overrun. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s inadequate preflight planning and excessive loading of the airplane.

NTSB Identification: ERA11FA293

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

    Having flown many aircraft over gross Dusting, Parachute drops, Cargo etc. I find it strange that a bonanza could not with 20 degrees flap have lifted off in ground effect, stayed in ground effect while the gear retracted, and went on its way. This wreck was caused by an unqualified pilot. Who had never been taught maximum performance take offs, at age 17 on my first legal solo cross country, I landed an underpowered fairchild PT-19 at Big Bear Lake over 6000 ft elev. Sammy Mason signed my log book and asked if I knew anything about high altitude takeoffs. I did’nt. He told me to leave it on the ground till the end of the runway, lift it over the fence and drop down over the water to 2 feet above surface, fly to the dam and drop down the canyon to the valley below. He did not teach me weight and balance, he showed me how to safely takeoff

  2. Buford Suffridge says

    I’ve been told by experienced pilots, I’m still a novice, that a Bonanza is one of the most dangerous airplanes around? Any opinions about that?

    • RudyH says

      In inexperienced hands it may be, like any aircraft. Contact the Bonanza associations; if they tell the plain truth about it they would be the experts on it’s characteristics…

    • DON MILLER says

      With proper training and currency Bonanza’s are as good as any airplane around. Don’t be current in a 172 and expect to be proficient in a high performance airplane. I prefer my C210 over a bonanza but have spent time in both.

  3. says

    This accident is so unfortunate. In addition to the unnecessary injuries, we may have lost several potential pilots. Those in the plane, and some who may have seen it happen. I hear pilots admitting over-gross operations all the time. The old “standard pilot” weight trails reality of today by a big margin. Most planes were not even designed to fly legaly with full load of “standard” people, full fuel, and even a minimum luggage; however, the temptation to fill the seats is definitely there.

    At our airport I frequently observe, what I believe is a bad practice. After the flight, the fuel truck comes, and tops the tanks for the next flight. If I did this, my Colt would instantly become a single place aircraft. I weigh 180 lbs, which is not too far from the “standard” pilot weight; however, with 36 gallons of fuel, and because I fly with about 20 lbs of “stuff” that never leaves the plane, I have only about 135 lbs left. On the other hand, with just over a half the fuel in my tanks, I can take another person of a reasonable size for a three hour flight, and still have a comfortable reserve to my alternate. I burn about 5 gallons per hour. I came to a conclusion long time ago that it is much more convenient to add just enough fuel for the planned flight, than having to drain it to stay within the legal weight limits. For me, flying over gross is not an option.

  4. Paul says

    Come on guys, maybe math was his problem too. According to the report… weight of plane minus lbs. overwieght equals gross weight (3830-230=3600).

  5. Steve says

    Exceedingly sorrowful for everyone involved in this accident: Best intentions to promote our passion gone astray. Just wondering if the fuel tanks were nearly full …

    • Joseph says

      Most likely and the airplane has a gross weight of 3500 pound so it was 330 pounds overweight. Very sad indeed.

      • Richard says

        Type Cerificate Data Sheet 3A15 lists the gross weight of the F33A as 3400 lbs. so he was 230 lbs over max gross weight.

        • Richard says

          My math was bad. According to the TCDS, he was 430 lbs. overgross, unless there is some kind of modification allowing a higher gross weight than 3400 lbs. It lists the gross weight as 2800 lbs in the Aerobatic Category.. Regardless, I’m sure, because of his actions, we have lost several potential additions to the thing we love.

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