Overloaded airplane crashes

Aircraft: Piper Tri-Pacer Injuries: None. Location: McGrath, Alaska. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to takeoff from a turf runway. The airplane was fully loaded with a passenger and cargo.

According to the pilot, the airplane became airborne, but would not climb very well. The pilot was able to get over some trees at the end of the runway, but then the airplane settled back to the ground, landing hard and sustaining substantial damage to the wings and fuselage.

The pilot told investigators that he should have flown his cargo out first and then returned for his passenger.

Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to load the airplane in excess of its takeoff capability given the runway conditions, which resulting in a collision with terrain during the initial climb.

NTSB Identification: ANC12CA065

This July 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.

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