NTSB Identification: CEN11CA678
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, September 05, 2011 in Buena Vista, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/16/2012
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-180, registration: N9430J
Injuries: 1 Minor,2 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 pilot reported that the airplane took off at a little over 60 knots. He stated that, just after liftoff, the airplane was initially sluggish to climb, so he lowered the nose to gain more speed in ground effect (to about 70 knots). The airplane started to gain some altitude, so the pilot continued the departure. He stated that, shortly after clearing the end of the runway, there was a loss of power and climb performance. With trees and houses ahead and insufficient altitude to clear them, the pilot decided to land in a field with deep grass just north of the airport. Upon landing in the field, the nose landing gear collapsed, resulting in substantial damage to the front of the fuselage.

After the accident, the pilot reported that he believed that he may not have leaned the engine enough during run-up, resulting in less than 100 percent available power to climb. He also reported that the spark plugs may have been fouled due to the mixture setting, resulting in the loss of available power immediately after takeoff. The pilot stated that the airplane was loaded to within 65 pounds of its maximum gross weight and with a calculated density altitude of 10,400 feet, the anticipated climb rate of 300 feet per minute required full power as outlined in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook. He stated that, if there were not deep grass in the landing field, he could have landed the airplane without incident.

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

The airplane’s diminished climb performance due to the pilot not leaning the engine mixture enough prior to takeoff in high density altitude conditions and at nearly maximum gross takeoff weight.

Full narrative available

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