Aircraft: Piper Pawnee. Injuries: None. Location: Harvey, N.D. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: Prior to taking off on the aerial application flight, the pilot loaded applicant and fuel which, as reported by the pilot, put the airplane slightly over its maximum gross weight.
In addition, he checked the automated report for the nearest airplane weather facility, which reported wind from the north at four knots. He departed the 2,600-foot turf and asphalt runway with a tailwind.
The airplane climbed to about 3 feet, then settled back to the runway. With a quarter of the runway remaining, the pilot continued the takeoff, increased flaps, and verified that the throttle and propeller controls were full forward.
He again rotated the airplane and was able to climb about 4 feet when the plane again settled back to the ground. The pilot then dumped the application load and tried to maintain control of the airplane.
The airplane continued a short distance to the opposite river bank, hit terrain, and slid on its belly.
The pilot reported that during the preflight checks the airplane had adequate oil and the fuel was sumped of any water. In addition, the pilot reported normal engine instrumentation prior to the takeoff roll.
Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to take off with the airplane over its maximum gross weight on a turf runway and with a tailwind, and his subsequent failure to maintain airplane control.
NTSB Identification: CEN12CA542
This August 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.