This November 2008 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: Aeronca Champ. Injuries: None. Location: Chadron, Neb. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The non-certificated pilot was interested in buying the single-engine tailwheel-equipped airplane. The potential buyer was issued a student pilot certificate in April 1990 but did not have any flight instructor endorsements. He attempted a takeoff. The airplane was 40 to 50 feet into the air when the engine lost power. The pilot turned back toward the runway but lacked sufficient altitude to glide. The airplane touched down short of the runway.
Investigators said there were tire skid marks corresponding to the landing gear of the Aeronca on the runway pointing to the crash site. The marks continued onto the grass. At one point along the path, the ground had four deep cuts consistent with a rotating propeller.
Probable cause: The failure to maintain direction control of the airplane. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s lack of experience.
For more information: NTSB.gov