On August 14, 1997, at 1145 central daylight time (cdt), a Cessna A188B, N731GE, operated by a commercial pilot, sustained substantial damage when on takeoff, the airplane struck some plum bushes. The airplane subsequently nosed over. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The aerial application flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 137. There was no flight plan on file. The pilot reported no injuries. The local flight originated at Elwood, Nebraska, at 1145 cdt.

In his written statement, the pilot said that before takeoff, he loaded the airplane with 130 gallons of water and chemical, placing the airplane near it's maximum restricted operating gross weight of 4,200 pounds. The pilot taxied out to the run-up area and checked the magnetos and the propeller. "The temperature was about 80 degrees with high humidity from rain the night before." The pilot said that the wind was light out of the west. "I started my takeoff roll to the north on the grass runway, rolled 1,000 feet, and brought the tail up." The pilot said he rolled another 500 feet, lowered five degrees of flaps, and started to lift off of the ground. "The plane settled back down, so I pulled 10 degrees of flaps on and tried to lift off again. But the airplane did not want to fly. The airplane impacted a bank with brush on it at the end of the runway."

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector who examined the airplane found the airplane resting upright on its belly. The engine, cowling and forward fuselage were bent upward and aft. The propeller showed torsional bending and chordwise scratches. The main landing gear were separated and folded under the fuselage. The airplane's right wing showed downward bends and aft-running tears along the leading edge. The right wing spar was bent down and aft. The upper wing skin outboard of mid-span showed heavy wrinkles. The right flap was bent upward. The leading edge of the left wing was bent aft and downward. The left wing showed heavy wrinkles in the upper skin outboard of mid-span to the wing tip. The airplane's fuselage showed heavy skin wrinkling predominantly along the bottom. The empennage was undamaged. Flight control continuity was confirmed. Examination of the engine, engine controls and other airplane systems showed no anomalies.

The Cessna A188B Owner's Manual states that for airplanes operated in the restricted category, "Take-off performance at these gross weights is limited, and ideal field elevation, runway, and weather conditions are expected to exist in obtaining satisfactory take-off performance. Operation from fields in excess of 1,000 above sea level, rough or soft runways, adverse runway gradients, high outside air temperature, turbulence, etc., may prevent a safe take-off at these gross weights. All of these things must be considered by the operator." The manual also states that, "The optimum flap setting for take-off at the maximum restricted category gross weight with dispersal equipment installed is 10-degrees."

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