This September 2007 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.
Aircraft: Cessna 172.
Location: Mansfield, Mass.
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 2 Serious.
Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The private pilot, who had logged 5.6 hours in a C-172, was attempting to take off. A review of a video recording of the accident showed the airplane wavering during climb out, in a nose-high attitude, and beginning a turn to the left. The plane reached an approximate altitude of 100 feet before the bank increased to approximately 60 °. The pilot radioed a mayday indicating that he would not clear the trees and was “going down.”
The airplane hit the ground. During examination of wreckage it was discovered that the flaps were deployed at 10° at the time of departure, and the airplane was about 64 lbs. over the gross weight limit. It was determined that the pilot miscalculated the weight and balance of the airplane. The higher gross weight resulted in a higher stall speed. Investigators also determined that use of flaps during takeoff was incorrect given the conditions at the time of the accident.
Probable cause: The pilot’s improper use of flaps during takeoff, which resulted in reduced climb performance and a subsequent stall. Contributing to the accident was the overloading of the airplane.
For more information: NTSB.gov