NTSB Identification: LAX01FA270.
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Accident occurred Sunday, August 05, 2001 in Weaverville, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/25/2003
Aircraft: Beech B36TC, registration: N1109T
Injuries: 1 Fatal,2 Serious,1 Minor.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to ground witnesses at the airport, the pilot departed uphill on runway 36 into rising terrain, and collided with trees just beyond the runway's departure end. Runway 36 is 2,980 feet in length with a 50-foot pavement width, and has a 3.5 percent uphill gradient with steeper rising terrain to the north of the airport. An airport warning sign states in red "This R/W Closed for takeoff use R/W 18." On the day of the accident, the pilot contacted the FAA Rancho Murieta Automated Flight Service Station at 0823. The pilot questioned the briefer about the takeoff procedure and an "X" that was marked on the runway. A discussion ensued, and the briefer told the pilot to takeoff on runway 36 (uphill), contrary to the intent of signage at the airport and FAA Airport/Facility Directory remarks. According to the briefer, his source of information for questions relating to airport procedures and operations came from the FAA Airport/Facility Directory. The entry for the airport in the FAA Airport/Facility Directory was examined. The first portion of the entry stated: "Airport closed to touch and go; go arounds; takeoff from runway 36 and landings on runway 18." Toward the end of the entry following some intervening information another note stated: "Land runway 36 takeoff runway 18 due to steep 3.5 percent uphill airport gradient and steeper rising terrain to the north." The maximum gross weight of the airplane is 3,850 pounds. Based on known and estimated weights, the weight of the airplane at the time of the accident was about 3,939.0 pounds, or 89 pounds above the maximum takeoff weight. According to the POH and best available information, the airplane would have required 3,750 feet of level, paved, and dry runway surface for takeoff with zero flaps to clear a 50-foot obstacle at the end. Witnesses at the airport estimated that the temperatures were in the mid 90's to over 100 degrees, and the wind was out of the south. Based on information provided by the witnesses, the density altitude was estimated between 4,000 and 4,800 feet mean sea level (msl).

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

the pilot's selection of the wrong runway, which resulted in an attempted takeoff uphill in a prevailing tailwind toward rising terrain and high obstacles. Also causal was the pilot's loading of the airplane above maximum gross weight and his failure to properly interpret the aircraft performance charts, which showed the airplane required more runway and distance to clear a 50-foot obstacle than existed for the ambient conditions. Factors in the accident were the high density altitude and the confusing and contradictory information in the Airport Facility Directory.

Full narrative available

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