NTSB Identification: ERA12FA327
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 09, 2012 in Sterling, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/19/2013
Aircraft: MOONEY M20J, registration: N9154K
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Serious.

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.

The pilot landed at the airport for the first time, and he and two passengers went to dinner with family members. They returned to the airport after dark for the return flight to the pilot’s home base. According to the surviving passenger, the pilot initiated the takeoff roll from a taxiway intersection and did not utilize the entire runway. The 2,478 foot-long runway had a 2.4 percent upslope in the takeoff direction, with a prominent hill and trees located past the departure end. The airplane became airborne at the runway numbers, which were just before the displaced threshold, and the stall warning horn sounded immediately after liftoff. The pilot attempted to climb above the trees; however, the left wing struck a tree, and the airplane crashed into the woods about 0.37 miles past the departure end of the runway. The airplane impacted the ground inverted and caught fire. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of a pre-impact mechanical malfunction or failure. According to the aircraft manufacturer, the expected takeoff roll for the airplane at the time of the accident was about 1,490 feet on a level runway, given a gross weight at takeoff of 2,714 pounds. Maximum gross weight for the airplane was 2,900 pounds.

The surviving passenger reported that the pilot did not utilize a checklist and did not complete any weight and balance calculations. The pilot should have aborted the takeoff when he realized he wasn’t going to liftoff in time to clear the trees.

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

The pilot’s decision to take off on an uphill slope without utilizing the entire available runway, and his failure to abort the takeoff when he realized he wasn’t going to liftoff in time to clear the trees at the end of the runway.

Full narrative available

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