On September 23, 1997, about 1530 Pacific daylight time, N64ML, a Cessna 172RG, operated by Galvin Flying Service, Inc., collided with a parked airplane during takeoff at an airport in Monroe, Washington. The airplane was substantially damaged. The certified flight instructor (CFI) and the commercial pilot (dual student) were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed. The instructional flight was conducted under 14 CFR 91.

According to the CFI (statement attached), the purpose of the flight was to give instruction to the commercial pilot, who desired to obtain a CFI certificate. The CFI was seated in the left seat, and the dual student was seated in the right seat. The CFI stated that the dual student taxied for takeoff on runway 7 at Firstair Field in Monroe with the purpose of performing a short field takeoff. The dual student selected no flaps, added full power and released the brakes. The CFI stated that the airplane suddenly "... became airborne in ground effect prematurely at 40 [knots of indicated airspeed]...and the nose yawed slightly left." The CFI stated that she immediately took control of the airplane and attempted to nose the airplane over to gain airspeed. She further stated:

The left wing dropped slightly, and I applied right rudder to bring the airplane back to the center of the runway. The stall horn was not sounding. I also used the right aileron to try to turn the airplane away from the parked airplanes on the north side of the runway. The nose then veered to the right toward the airplanes parked on the south side. I then turned the aircraft back to the left, and we thought we had missed the planes. Unfortunately, our right main hit the [parked airplane's] rudder just under the horizontal stabilizer. At some point just prior to or just after hitting the airplane, I remember seeing the airspeed indicator reading 50 [knots]. During the time we became airborne and just prior to hitting the [parked airplane], the airplane's controls felt very mushy and not effecting.

According to the dual student (statement attached), the airplane's elevator trim was set for takeoff. After the dual student released the brakes at full power, the airplane "...proceeded to prematurely lift off of the ground at an indicated airspeed of about 40 knots. At the same time, the airplane began to drift to the left of the runway towards other airplanes that were parked on the grass. As I was trying to hold the airplane down, [the CFI] realized that I did not actually rotate early and she pushed the yoke full forward with no response from the airplane..." The dual student also stated that the airplane "... was still in a climb pitch attitude and less than 10 feet above the ground..." when it struck the parked airplane. The collision tore the entire right horizontal stabilizer off of the airplane that the CFI was flying. The CFI continued to climb to about 500 feet above the ground, entered the traffic pattern, and landed the airplane safely onto runway 7.

Neither the pilots or the operator reported any preimpact mechanical malfunctions with the airplane.

The Firstair Field is a privately-owned, non-Federally regulated public airport that consists of a single paved runway that is 34 feet wide and 2,092 feet in length. There are no markings that designate the centerline of the runway. The runway is surrounded by a grassy area. According to an FAA aviation safety inspector from Renton, Washington, numerous airplanes, including the parked airplane that was struck by the accident airplane, were parked on the grassy area about 20 feet from the runway's edge. According to FAA Advisory Circular AC150/5300-13, a runway safety area should be 120 feet wide for airplanes that have an approach speed of 50 knots or less.

The CFI was issued her flight instructor's certificate in March 1, 1996. She reported that she had logged 1,240 flight hours of instruction given since that time. The dual student was issued a commercial pilot's license on April 27, 1997. She reported that she had logged 283 hours of total flight time.

According to the Pilot's Operating Handbook for the Cessna 172RG, the recommended indicated airspeed for rotation during a short field takeoff is greater than 40 knots.

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