NTSB Identification: CHI04CA218.
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Accident occurred Sunday, August 08, 2004 in Frankfort, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/28/2004
Aircraft: Cessna 305A, registration: N54517
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airplane used for glider aero-tow was destroyed by post-impact fire after it impacted the terrain during takeoff climb. The tow pilot reported that he was departing the grass airstrip with a glider in tow. The glider was positioned to the right of the tow plane. During the takeoff ground run, the glider aborted the takeoff by releasing the tow line. The tow pilot reported that the tow plane "suddenly yawed 45 degrees" to the left and veered off the left side of the grass airstrip and "crossed a marsh/wetland area" southwest of the runway. He reported the airplane was still at full power and was at minimum controllable airspeed. The pilot reported that he continued the takeoff and attempted to climb over a tree line, but the airplane had "insufficient airspeed and stalled." The airplane impacted the terrain and caught fire. The tow airplane utilized had a five point pilot restraint harness and the pilot received minor injuries. He exited the airplane before the airplane was consumed by fire. The glider pilot reported he aborted the takeoff when he saw the tow plane veering toward the left side of the runway. The glider rolled out on the airstrip without damage. An inspection of the accident site revealed that the tow plane was about 30 feet from the left side of the runway when the glider aborted its takeoff. Then the tow plane traveled about 150-175 feet through the tall grass before it lifted off and attempted flight. The tree line was located approximately 250 feet from the point of lift off. At 1415, the observed wind, approximately 28 nautical miles south of the accident site, were 250 degrees at 6 knots. The runway in use was runway 33. The glider pilot reported the wind from the south produced a 5 knot tailwind.

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

The tow pilot failed to maintain directional control during takeoff roll and failed to abort the takeoff. Additionally, the tow pilot failed to attain adequate airspeed which resulted in a stall. The tailwind and the tall grass were contributing factors.

Full narrative available

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