On May 24, 1994, about 1300 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172N, N737SE, owned by Dettinger Aviation, Inc., and piloted by William W. Groves, was substantially damaged when it went off the side of the runway during the takeoff roll at the Shannon Airport, Fredericksburg, Virginia. The pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan had not been filed for the flight operating under 14 CFR 91.

The pilot was planning to depart the Shannon Airport for a local flight. The hard surface runway at the airport was closed for maintenance, and the 1500 foot grass runway was active. In the NTSB Form 6120.1/2 the pilot stated:

"I lined up on 32 Shannon...I applied full power...and began the takeoff roll for a soft field departure. The takeoff roll was normal...while holding back pressure on the yoke. The aircraft broke ground as normal and I eased the nose over to obtain Vx (59 KIAS). At 59 K [knots] I rotated for climb out. At that point the aircraft...seemed to 'mush' and settled back to the runway on the left main gear...I decided to abort the takeoff knowing that I had plenty of runway left...I closed the throttle and lowered the nose. The plane jerked left...I noticed that we pointed directly toward a runway edge cone...the wing tip caught the bank off to the left side of the strip and pulled the plane into the bank..."

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector's report stated:

"...I appears that the pilot attempted a soft, short field takeoff. A short distance away, the aircraft swayed to the left and left the runway. Approximately 500 feet from the starting point, the aircraft hit an embankment, causing substantial damage to the aircraft...Upon inspection, the aircraft was found to have all control functions normal, and all instruments were found to be operational..."

The pilot's last flight was four tenths of an hour duration in a Piper PA-28, approximately 90 days prior to this flight.

According to the Cessna Pilot's Operating Handbook, for the environmental conditions that day, the airplane would have required an approximate ground roll of 1100 feet for a short field takeoff from a grass runway.

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