NTSB Identification: CHI01LA144.
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Accident occurred Sunday, May 20, 2001 in Roscommon, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/09/2001
Aircraft: Cessna 152, registration: N45943
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot was demonstrating a short-field takeoff to his passenger at the time of the accident. The pilot stated that the aircraft did not accelerate normally after rotation and at 50-feet above ground level it became obvious that the aircraft would not clear a tree line off the end of the runway. The pilot elected to land the airplane on the remaining runway, was unable to stop the aircraft prior to the tree line, and collided with the trees. The pilot reported, "The takeoff roll was longer than normal (maybe 200 ft.) which I attributed to our heavy loading (approx. 25 lbs. under max. gross), the rough surface, and perhaps some to the 2220ft. density altitude HTL [Roscommon County Airport] AWOS [Automated Weather Observing System] was reporting." The pilot stated, "I went to Vx [best angle-of-climb airspeed] but we were covering a lot of ground and making very little altitude. I checked the tach which showed 2350-2400 rpm which should have been enough to climb. At about 50ft. agl [above ground level] with 70ft. trees ahead, It became obvious we would not clear them. I did not want to go into the trees airborne, I decided to risk the airplane rather than risk serious injury or worse." The pilot reported, "I closed the throttle and lowered the nose steeply - - flairing [flaring] at the last second, contacting the ground 130ft. from the tree line. The pilot stated, "...consulted the aircraft P.O.H [pilot operating handbook] on down-wind take-off performance. Reconstructing the conditions of our situation that day, and figuring an 8kt. tail-wind, the numbers on the performance chart mirrored the performance we experienced." The pilot reported, "I am certain that we experienced a drastic unexpected wind shift which gave us a tail-wind component."

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

The failure of the pilot to maintain clearance from the tree line. Factors to the accident were the tailwind, the aircraft being near gross weight, the high density altitude, the rough runway condition, and the tree line. An additional factor to the accident was the failure of the pilot to calculate takeoff performance data prior to the takeoff.

Full narrative available

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