Poor planning results in poor performance

Aircraft: Piper Cherokee. Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious. Location: Mexico, Mo. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot and his wife were departing from a 2,600-foot grass runway with a quartering right tailwind. The grass on the runway was between 6 and 10 inches high.

The airplane took off about 1,900 feet down the runway, veered to the left and stalled, colliding with trees before it came to rest in a field.

Interpolation of available takeoff performance revealed that the airplane would have needed about 2,312 feet of ground-roll distance for a successful takeoff from a paved, level, dry runway, with zero flaps, under the existing wind conditions.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain control during takeoff, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and subsequent collision with trees. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s inadequate preflight performance planning before departing on the soft, grass field with a quartering tailwind.

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA188

This March 2012 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. Tom says

    It’s too bad that they took off downwind,
    The flight was destined to suffer a fall,
    Also 2 other runways are paved,
    At Mexico Missouri for all.

    “Inadequate preflight performance planning”?
    They say that was one of the causes,
    Let’s not forget that in all our beginnings,
    Spiritual guidance helps believers stop losses.

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