The pilot of the tailwheel-equipped CubCrafters CC11-16 was departing from a mountain airport in a valley in Lake City, Colo.
He reported that during takeoff, he rotated at about 52-54 miles per hour, and about 20 feet above the ground, a strong crosswind from the left pushed the airplane to right of the runway centerline.
He attempted to overcome the effect of the wind with control inputs, but the airplane hit trees on the right side of the runway. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings, fuselage, and empennage.
An FAA inspector who went to the accident site reported that the pilot rotated approximately 400 feet and hit trees about 621 feet from where the takeoff roll was initiated. The inspector estimated there was at least an additional 2,000 feet of useable runway remaining.
The field elevation was 9,300 feet MSL and density altitude was calculated as 12,600 feet.
The performance charts for this airplane stop at 8,000 feet and required extrapolation for the airport elevation and weather conditions.
Calculations by the FAA inspector estimated a minimum takeoff roll of 425 feet before rotation under ideal conditions for weather and mixture setting.
A witness reported the pilot was “hot dogging” and was trying to show off when he took off in a very short distance and climbed at a steep angle.
The witness reported the airplane aerodynamically stalled, collided with trees and came to rest in a ditch.
The witness also reported that the wind was calm at the time of the takeoff and accident.
The airplane came to rest on private property next to the airport, and the witness reported that the landowner dragged the airplane onto airport property with a tractor. The airplane wreckage was not photographed by the FAA inspector before it was moved.
Eight other airplanes of similar make and model departed the field about the time of the accident without incident.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure during takeoff to attain sufficient airspeed for conditions, and to maintain yaw control and a positive rate of climb, resulting in a loss of directional control, an uncontrolled descent, and collision with trees and terrain.
NTSB Identification: GAA15CA292
This September 2015 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.