Super Cub strikes wire on takeoff

Aircraft: Piper Super Cub. Injuries: None. Location: Pilot Mountain, N.C. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to takeoff from a 1,900-foot turf airstrip. At the end of the airstrip were power transmission lines.

After liftoff, the pilot noted the aircraft’s performance was less than he anticipated it would be, and he didn’t think the airplane would clear the wires. He attempted to fly under the lowest wire, which was about 20 feet above the ground, but one wing caught the wire, and the airplane crashed.

Investigators determined at the time of the accident there was a tailwind at the airstrip and the temperature and dew point indicated a probability of carburetor ice formation during the pilot’s reported four to five minutes of low-power taxi prior to takeoff. The extent to which a tailwind, carburetor ice, or some other phenomena might have singularly or cumulatively affected takeoff and climb performance could not be determined.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to abort the takeoff in a timely manner. Contributing to the accident was the airplane’s reduced takeoff performance.

NTSB Identification: ERA12LA309

This April 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. says

    a proper weather brief would have shown the tailwind on his chosen runway, if possible either going the other way, or post poning the flight would have been a sound decision. It does not state the weight of the aircraft on takeoff, so that may have been a factor as well in this mishap.

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