On September 30, 1996, approximately 1900 mountain daylight time, N5459H, a Cessna 172M, sustained substantial damage during takeoff from a private airstrip near Cedar City, Utah. The private pilot, the sole occupant, was uninjured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the flight, which had a destination of Torrance, California. There was no report of an ELT actuating.

When he was interviewed after the accident, the pilot stated that he had initiated a takeoff, rotating at normal speed. The nose pitched up above normal. He lowered the nose and overran the end of the runway, damaging the fuselage and separating the left main landing gear. He stated that he believed the airplane had been loaded too far aft of the aft center of gravity point. He had 95 pounds in the baggage compartment, and had 100 pounds in the back seat area, with no passenger in the front seat.

When he submitted his written accident report, the pilot noted that he believed he had selected 10 degrees of flaps for takeoff. After lift-off, he could not gain altitude and entered a nose-up attitude. He stated that he saw no speed on the airspeed indicator, and decided to "set it down" and then immediately nosed into the ground. He said the aircraft fish-tailed and came to a stop after sliding approximately 60-70 feet. He later remembered that the flaps appeared fully extended to 40 degrees down position. He noted that he must have not returned the flap switch to the neutral position, and that it did not automatically spring back.

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