NTSB Identification: NYC06LA026.
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Accident occurred Saturday, November 05, 2005 in Laurel, DE
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/29/2006
Aircraft: Cessna 172S, registration: N3540U
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.

Another pilot successfully landed the airplane in a farm field after an inadvertent engine stoppage earlier in the day. The accident pilot/owner responded to the field to recover the airplane with a flight instructor and a mechanic, and was met there by an FAA inspector. The airplane was deemed airworthy, and the pilot announced his plan to takeoff from the unlit field at night. The FAA inspector, the flight instructor, and the mechanic all attempted to dissuade the pilot from his plan, but he attempted the takeoff after the inspector left the scene, 41 minutes after civil twilight. According to the flight instructor, "He was at full throttle the whole time. He pitched up, and never lowered the nose. He drug the tail the whole time. He was at full throttle and went up over a barn, hit a sign, went over the road, under the power lines, up an embankment, and down in the field." The airplane bounced in the field, struck the right wing, then nosed into the ground, and came to rest. The engine was at full power the entire time, and the engine stopped when the propeller struck the ground. Immediately after the accident, the pilot told the FAA inspector that the accident resulted from his "poor soft field technique." He later told the Safety Board that the engine lost power during takeoff. After the accident, the engine started immediately, accelerated smoothly, and ran to full power without interruption on the airframe. When the flight instructor was asked if he had endorsed the pilot's plan for takeoff, he responded, "No. We all discussed it, but he's pig-headed, you can't tell him anything. The FAA inspector told him not to do it, but he said, 'It's my airplane, and it's airworthy. I'm taking off.' I told him that he could go the opposite way, or we could take the wings off and truck it out of there. From my perspective, he did the procedure completely wrong."

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

The pilot's improper decision to takeoff from an unimproved field, and his subsequent failure to abort the takeoff prior to collision with a sign and an embankment. Factors in the accident were his improper soft field technique, and the dark night conditions.

Full narrative available

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