Tailwind takeoff kills four

Aircraft: Cessna P210. Injuries: 4 Fatal. Location: Burley, Idaho. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot attempted to takeoff with a tailwind of about 6 to 10 knots on what was described as a “high density altitude” day.

The airplane was loaded at, or very near to, its maximum allowable takeoff weight. Witnesses on the ground watched the airplane accelerate down the runway, not lifting off until it was about three-quarters of the way down the runway, which was shortly followed by the retraction of the landing gear.

When the airplane was approximately 75 feet AGL, it entered a left turn and began to descend. The descent continued onto the ground.

Investigators determined the takeoff weight was estimated to be within 50 pounds, plus or minus, of its maximum takeoff gross weight of 4,000 pounds. The combination of the high density altitude, the tailwind, and the high gross weight most likely resulted in the pilot not being able to maintain altitude during the turn because of the reduced vertical component of lift.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to attain sufficient altitude and maintain aircraft control during a turn shortly after liftoff while operating at maximum gross weight, with a tailwind, and in high density altitude conditions.

NTSB Identification: WPR11FA382

This August 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. says

    huge mistake trying to take off downwind,that should NEVER be done.that is the most
    important procedure in order to have a proper take off,specially when you are so close to maximun take off weight.In top of that,why he tried to make a turn at such of low altitude?GOD knows.

  2. John Kays says

    Landed Burley just a year ago on my way to market my 1967 Piper Arrow in Canadian, TX with my wife. This is a ‘land locked’ airport between river and city with minimum service.
    I understood from the attendant that the city desires to close it down. No problem for the Airtractors, otherwise, best that a pilot have ALL conditions to their advantage. This C210 had three strikes against it with disaterous results!

  3. Brad says

    I just want to know if the pilot was to inattentive to realize where the wind was coming from, or if he was to “hurried” to taxi to the other end.

  4. Guest says

    After reading the “full narrative” of the NTSB report, I can’t help but wonder if some showmanship wasn’t involved in this accident. I am sure most of us know someone whose personality transformed upon receiving a private pilot’s license. The person I know began wearing a thick pilot’s leather jacket, with the Rayban’s practically surgically attached to the face. He was not Paul Blart anymore but rather Tom “the Top Gun” Cruise. I don’t mean to paint anyone unfairly (the guy is a careful pilot as far as I know), however, I suspect some take a distorted self-perception to the next level and become an accident waiting to happen. But, hey, that’s just me.

  5. Dave Hill says

    Stupidity is not a misfortune. NTSB needs to keep track of fatalities as the result of stupidity. I believe that would significantly demonstrate that the so-called GA fatality problem is not a “training” problem. Maybe we need to publicize the names of the stupid pilots who kill themselves and their passengers. We need a public “Wall of Shame”. Maybe pilots would be more motivated to keep their name off the “Wall of Shame” rather than risk doing something stupid. Bird strike is an accident. Engine failure might be an accident. Taking off with a tailwind, gross weight, high density altitude – it doesn’t get any more stupid.

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