On April 3, 1994, approximately 1500 mountain daylight time, N4015X, an Aero Commander 100-180, was substantially damaged during takeoff at Steamboat Springs, Colorado. One passenger was seriously injured; the private pilot and two other passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

In his pilot/operator report, the pilot said the takeoff was normal and the airplane lifted off at 80 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS). He said after climbing about 40 feet, the airplane "lost lift and lost altitude" and struck the runway, damaging the landing gear. The pilot said he lost control and the airplane went off the left side of the runway, down an embankment, and collided with a ditch. The pilot said "a sudden shift in wind direction with a gust of sufficient speed from crosswind to tailwind caused the sudden loss of lift."

Witnesses said the airplane lifted off, then bounced back onto the runway, and lifted off again. One witness said it appeared "the aircraft was close to a dynamic stall, (very nose high attitude). It seemed as though the pilot tried to regain control by pushing the nose over but the aircraft appeared to still be very slow and unstable. This was followed by another high angle of attack and unstable flight." The airplane had been fueled to capacity just before the accident.

According to the Lark Commander Owners Manual the airplane has a gross takeoff weight of 2,450 pounds and, at that weight, a center of gravity range from 40.55 inches to 46.25 inches aft of datum. The manual further indicates that the airplane will weigh 2,455 pounds if it is serviced to full capacity (40 gallons) and four adult occupants, each weighing 170 pounds, are on board. Density altitude was 8,410 feet.

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