NTSB Identification: CEN11LA536
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 01, 2011 in Stoughton, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/01/2011
Aircraft: BELLANCA 14-13, registration: N74260
Injuries: 2 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that he performed an engine run-up prior to takeoff and everything was normal. He had the flaps extended 2 notches when he initiated the takeoff to the north on the 2,500-foot-long wet grass runway. The airplane became airborne about half way down the runway. The pilot stated that upon reaching 65 to 70 mph, he reduced the flaps to 1 notch to maintain the best rate of climb. He stated that the airplane cleared the initial group of trees, then it began to descend. The airplane subsequently contacted the trees and sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and both wings. A witness said the airplane was “mushy” during the takeoff and the nose remained high prior to the right wing dropping and the airplane descending. The airplane was about 190 pounds under gross weight and the density altitude was approximately 2,600 feet. The operation of the airplane near maximum gross weight at a high density altitude on a wet grass runway degraded the airplane’s takeoff performance. A postaccident examination of the airplane and engine did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded any normal operation. The pilot reported that he did not get the landing gear retracted prior to impact.

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

The pilot’s improper preflight planning and his failure to gain proper airspeed during takeoff from a grass airstrip resulting in a stall, the loss of control, and subsequent impact with the trees. Contributing to the accident was the pilot operating the airplane at near maximum gross weight and the high density altitude.

Full narrative available

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