NTSB Identification: LAX03FA116.
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Accident occurred Friday, March 21, 2003 in Santa Maria, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/28/2004
Aircraft: Cessna 182G, registration: N3236S
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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.

While taking off from his remote ranch airstrip, the pilot stalled the airplane and collided with trees and terrain. The pilot had been utilizing this airstrip for more than 20 years. The airstrip was a 1,200 by 50-foot dirt/grass runway that was oriented on a magnetic bearing of 050/230 degrees. On the north side of the runway edge were bushes that were from 6 to 20 feet in height. The south side of the runway had bushes that were 6 to 12 feet in height. At the end of the runway was a row of bushes that were about 10 to 12 feet in height. All of the bushes and trees in the area of the runway environment were overgrown. One hundred feet of the eastern end of the runway sloped uphill and appeared to be unusable. The pilot departed from the airstrip westbound. There were ground tracks indicating the airplane had veered to the left (south) side of the runway. On the south side of the runway, about 900 feet down the usable portion of the runway, there were bushes that were disturbed displaying broken twigs and branches. The damage to the bushes started at 6 feet high and continued to increase in height. About 920 feet down the runway, there was a red colored navigation lens found on the ground in the same area as the disturbed bushes. At the departure end of the runway there was another bush that had been trimmed flat about 10 to 12 feet high. About 75 feet west of the departure end of the runway was a row of trees that were perpendicular to the runway alignment; the tops of these trees were about 20 to 30 feet higher than the bushes located at the end of the runway. There was no evidence of any disruption or impact damage to the trees. The aircraft then impacted another stand of trees, which were 370 feet southwest from the departure end of the airstrip in a nose and left wing low attitude. No mechanical malfunctions were noted with the airplane or engine during the on scene investigation.

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

the pilot's failure to maintain proper runway alignment during the takeoff ground roll, which resulted in the left wing contacting the brush lining the runway edge. The combined effects of the brush and tree contact retarded the airplanes acceleration and resulted in the pilot's failure to attain an adequate airspeed in the takeoff initial climb, which resulted in an inadvertent stall mush. The pilot's failure to maintain the surrounding areas of the runway was a factor in the accident.

Full narrative available

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