Aircraft: Piper Malibu Mirage. Injuries: 3 Fatal. Location: Rantoul, Ill. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The day before the accident the pilot, who was reported to have logged at least 1,850 hours, obtained a computerized weather briefing and filed a flight plan. However, none of the weather information he obtained was current at the time of the accident.
On the morning of the accident, the area forecast outlook indicated thunderstorms would be present during the morning hours. Weather information at the departure airport about the time of takeoff indicated lightning to the north and northwest.
Pictures taken during passenger boarding and while taxiing to the runway depicted a defined shelf, rotor, or arc cloud, which marked the boundary of the low-level outflow of a storm that was approaching the airport. Dark conditions under the clouds are consistent with approaching precipitation.
A pilot-rated witness reported that the pilot was in a “hurry because a storm front was coming.”
The airplane took off on runway 27 and started to turn to the south. The weather front and a strong wind from the northwest appeared to “push the tail of the plane up and the nose down.” The airplane crashed and burned. The witness indicated that the airplane’s engine was producing power until impact.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain control during takeoff with approaching thunderstorms. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s decision to depart into adverse weather conditions.
NTSB Identification: CEN11FA500
This July 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.