The pilot intended to perform a short field takeoff due to trees at the end of the 2,350-foot-long runway in Indian Trail, N.C.
A pre-takeoff engine run up of the Piper PA 28-180 revealed no anomalies, and he initiated the takeoff with the wing flaps extended 10°.
“Immediately” after takeoff, the pilot raised the flaps, and felt as though the airplane’s nose was “pushed down.”
The airplane hit trees at the end of the runway and then hit the ground, resulting in substantial damage to the fuselage, both wings, and the engine firewall.
According to the airplane owner’s handbook, when operating from short runways, “[takeoff] distances can be reduced appreciably by lowering flaps to 25°.”
The Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3A) further stated, “On short-field takeoffs, the landing gear and flaps should remain in takeoff position until clear of obstacles and [best rate of climb] has been established. It is usually advisable to raise the flaps in increments to avoid sudden loss of lift.”
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s improper flap retraction during a short field takeoff, which resulted in the aircraft experiencing an aerodynamic stall and impact with trees.
NTSB Identification: ERA14CA233
This May 2014 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.