Tailwind takeoff leads to stall

Aircraft: Aviat A-1C-180. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Kooskia, Idaho. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: A witness at the airport told investigators that the pilot and passenger were in a hurry to leave because the weather at the airfield was deteriorating due to an incoming thunderstorm.

The witness stated the airplane made an uphill intersection takeoff with a strong gusting tailwind. He added that the airplane appeared unstable during the takeoff.

A second witness stated that at the time of takeoff the thunderstorm was within one mile of the airfield and that the windsock was fully erect and moving around erratically and that the wind “was knocking the aircraft all over.”

The passenger stated that he thought the airplane was about tree-top level when it encountered the violent wind condition that made it pitch down, crash and burn.

Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to attempt a downwind takeoff in gusting wind conditions, coupled with a thunderstorm in close proximity to the airfield, most likely resulted in his loss of airplane control and subsequent impact with terrain.

NTSB Identification: WPR12FA280

This June 2012 accident report is are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

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