On June 25, 1997, about 1130 Alaska daylight time, a wheel equipped Beech D18S airplane, N765D, was destroyed during takeoff from the Willow Airport, Willow, Alaska. The solo airline transport certificated pilot was not injured. The business flight operated under 14 CFR Part 91 in visual meteorological conditions, and a company flight plan was in effect. The intended destination was Sleetmute, Alaska, which was the first leg of a flight with stops at Sleetmute and Stony River, Alaska, and eventual return to Willow.

During a telephone interview with the NTSB investigator-in-charge on June 27, the pilot related he has a retail business that supplies groceries and other items to remote villages. He said he uses airplanes to transport those goods to his customers. On the accident flight, he said he loaded the airplane with a combination of groceries, three 55-gallon drums of gasoline, a propane tank, and other assorted items. He said he believed the gross weight of the airplane was about 100 to 200 pounds under its allowable gross weight of 10,100 pounds.

Shortly after liftoff from runway 31 (gravel, 4,400 feet), he said the airplane "felt a little weak" in the climb. About 100 feet above the ground, he said the left wing dropped slightly, and the right wing rose, causing him to believe the left engine was not developing full power. He said the airplane would not climb, and he elected to bring both engines to idle and land. The airplane touched down a short distance prior to the end of the runway, and then went into and beyond the overrun area, colliding with small trees and brush. The pilot said he is not sure if the left engine was on fire prior to impact, but a significant fire was visible on the left wing as he went off the end of the runway.

The pilot was able to exit the airplane unaided.

A pilot who was flying overhead the Willow Airport at 5,500 feet msl, said he saw the accident airplane lined up at the very end of runway 31. He said he saw the dust cloud as the airplane began its takeoff run, and was concerned the airplane would not liftoff prior to the end of the runway. He also said the airplane swerved to the left a couple of times during the takeoff roll. He said he was relieved when he saw the airplane liftoff about 500 feet from the end of the runway, and he momentarily looked away. When he looked back, he saw another cloud of dust, and the airplane on the ground and in the trees off the end of runway 31. He saw fire, and someone running away from the airplane.

The majority of the airplane was destroyed by fire. The engines were recovered from the wreckage, but were extensively damaged by fire, and were not examined by the NTSB.

FAA inspectors who went to the accident site reported the engines displayed no obvious signs of catastrophic failure.

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