The pilot was attempting to depart a snow-covered runway in Big Lake, Alaska, in a wheel-equipped Cessna 172.
On his first attempt the plane failed to generate enough airspeed, so he aborted the takeoff and exited the runway.
On his second attempt, he started the takeoff roll on a taxiway via a 90° turn to enter the runway. Just before entering the runway he encountered uneven terrain, and the airplane veered to the left and hit a snow berm, sustaining substantial damage to the right wing.
In the recommendation section of the NTSB Accident/Incident Reporting Form 6120.1, the pilot listed several ways that the accident could have been prevented, which included parking the airplane and waiting for a snow plow to clear the runway. In addition, he indicated that he was fatigued and his judgment and decision making abilities were compromised.
Probable Cause: The pilot’s improper decision to initiate the takeoff roll from a snow-covered taxiway, which resulted in a loss of directional control, runway excursion, and impact with a snow berm.
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This March 2020 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.