Botched takeoff bends Cessna

Aircraft: Cessna 120. Injuries: None. Location: Montague, Mass. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to take off. As the airplane accelerated to 40 mph, the engine sputtered and the pilot reduced power to abort the takeoff.

The sputtering ceased, so the pilot added power to continue the takeoff. The engine sputtered a second time, and the pilot reduced engine power again.

The pilot was concerned about running out of runway because at the end of the runway was a ditch. Rather than risk hitting the ditch the pilot opted to go off the left side of the runway. The airplane hit a runway sign before coming to a stop.

The pilot de-fueled and moved the airplane before it could be examined. Therefore, it was not possible to verify the fuel quantity or determine if any fuel contamination was present.

Post-accident examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal evidence of any pre-impact mechanical failures.

Probable cause: The pilot’s delay in performing a rejected takeoff after experiencing an intermittent loss of engine power, which resulted in a runway excursion.

NTSB Identification: ERA12CA118

This December 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. Ray says

    Hey maybe It’ll go away. Always investigate the cause and correct before continuing the flight. $80 for a 3rd class exam? I’m moving to your town. Mine costs $125.

  2. Buford Suffridge says

    Personally I think the accident was the fault of the FAA requiring the Class 3 Medical which resulted in two accident causative factors: (1) the $80 for the medical exam didn’t leave sufficient funds for the purchase of a sump drain tube, and (2) the time spent in the doctor’s office didn’t leave sufficient time to drain the sumps. :)

  3. vaughn price says

    Sounds like the sumps were not drained during the pre flight, if there was a preflight.
    I’ve got over 15000 hrs general aviation and I drain sumps and do a complete pre flight

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