NTSB Identification: CEN13FA364
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 21, 2013 in Waterford, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/10/2014
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N9926Q
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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.

Air traffic control tower personnel saw the airplane lift off the runway and attain an altitude of about 100 feet. A pilot approaching the runway for landing saw the airplane lift off and noticed it was not climbing. He saw the airplane "lagging" and "wallowing in the air with flaps extended." Shortly after, the accident pilot advised an air traffic controller that he was "a little overweight" and would need to return to the airport and land. The air traffic controller cleared the airplane to land on the parallel runway or the grass area surrounding the runways. The pilot did not respond. Several witnesses near the airport, including the pilot in the landing airplane, saw the accident airplane impact the ground and burst into flames. A postaccident examination revealed that the wing flaps were fully extended (40 degrees). Weight and balance calculations indicated the airplane was slightly under maximum gross weight. Postaccident examinations revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The pilot received his private pilot certificate almost 2 months before the accident and had flown a Cirrus SR20 almost exclusively. He reportedly had flown the Cessna 172, the accident airplane make and model, for a few hours, but this report could not be confirmed. Cirrus SR20 takeoffs are normally made using 50 percent flaps, whereas Cessna 172M takeoffs are normally made with the flaps up. The pilot most likely configured the airplane incorrectly for takeoff and the airplane was unable to climb due to his lack of familiarity with the airplane make and model.

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

The pilot's failure to retract the wing flaps before attempting to take off, due to his lack of familiarity with the airplane make and model, which prevented the airplane from maintaining adequate altitude for takeoff.

Full narrative available

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