Aircraft: Piper Cherokee. Injuries: 3 Fatal, 1 Serious. Location: Guntersville, Ala. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The private pilot, 52, had logged at least 500 hours, including 200 in the Cherokee, at the time of the accident.
Several witnesses saw the airplane become airborne about two-thirds of the way down the runway. It then pitched up to a nose-high attitude of at least 20°, leveled off about 40 feet above ground level, then pitched up again, then went down behind a tree line.
The post-accident examination did not reveal any mechanical malfunctions.
The witness observations are consistent with the pilot attempting to climb at too steep a pitch angle, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. Investigators determined that the airplane’s weight was about 110 pounds over the maximum allowable takeoff weight, which would have resulted in reduced climb performance.
Probable cause: The pilot’s excessive pitch attitude, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall during the takeoff and initial climb. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to comply with weight and balance limitations.
NTSB Identification: ERA11FA348
This June 2011 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.