NTSB Identification: LAX97LA171.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, April 30, 1997 in PALO ALTO, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/21/1998
Aircraft: Cessna 140, registration: N2031N
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot, who was the owner/operator of the airplane, applied engine power for takeoff, and the airplane accelerated and climbed approximately 50 feet above the runway. Suddenly, the airplane banked right, and the pilot attempted to lower the left wing by applying opposite aileron. His efforts were inadequate. He lost control of the airplane as the nose pitched down, and the airplane crashed. The airplane came to rest in an open dirt field about 150 feet from the runway's edge. The pilot reported that no mechanical malfunction or failures were experienced during the flight. An examination of the airplane revealed it had been modified by the addition of fuel tanks which increased the total fuel tank capacity from 25 gallons (standard) to about 60 gallons. The pilot reported that this modification, which was performed under his direction, had increased the airplane's stall speed by 6 mph. The FAA had not approved the modification.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the pilot's failure to obtain and/or maintain adequate airspeed during initial climb after takeoff, which resulted in an inadvertent stall and collision with the terrain. A factor relating to the accident was: the degraded climb performance due to an unauthorized modification of the airplane, which increased the airplane's maximum fuel tank capacity and stall speed.

Full narrative available

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