Aircraft: Cessna 172. Injuries: None. Location: Indian Trail, N.C. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The airplane, which took off from a 2,350-foot runway with tall trees located off the departure end, was loaded with full fuel, the pilot and three passengers. It was about 117 pounds below its maximum gross operating weight at takeoff.
The pilot selected 10° of flaps for takeoff, however, the owner’s manual stated that normal and obstacle clearance takeoffs in that model were to be performed with wing flaps retracted and specified the use of takeoff flaps only for soft or rough fields.
Just after liftoff at an altitude of about 40 feet AGL, the airspeed began to deteriorate and the stall warning sounded. The pilot turned to the left in an attempt to avoid the trees at the end of the runway, but it was not enough to keep the airplane’s right tire from hitting a tree. The pilot was able to land on a nearby road.
During the landing roll, the left wing hit a tree, causing the airplane to swerve to the left, and the nose landing gear to shear off before the airplane slid to a stop.
Investigators determined the pilot’s improper use of flaps during takeoff while operating near the airplane’s maximum gross weight reduced the airplane’s climb capability and it was unable to clear the trees off the end of the departure runway.
Probable cause: The pilot’s improper use of flaps for takeoff, which resulted in the airplane’s failure to attain adequate climb airspeed and subsequent collision will trees during takeoff.
NTSB Identification: ERA13LA037
This October 2012 accident report is are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.