On October 4, 1997, about 1253 eastern daylight time, a Piper J-3C-65, NC30236, registered to a private individual, collided with power lines during takeoff from a private airstrip near Trenton, Georgia. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR 91 personal flight. The airplane was substantially damaged, and the private-rated pilot as well as the non-rated passenger were not injured. The flight originated one minute before the accident. The pilot stated that during the takeoff roll, he attempted rotation at about the same spot on the 1800 ft. grass strip that other identical aircraft had become airborne, but his aircraft would not fly. Further down the runway, the aircraft did become airborne, but with down-sloping terrain, the aircraft wouldn't climb, impacted power lines, and descended into "cleared brush.". The pilot stated that takeoff power on this day never exceeded 2200 RPM, that he mistook the crest of the runway for the departure end, and that when he reached the crest and saw how much runway remained, 476 feet, he probably should have aborted the takeoff.

The undamaged engine, still installed on the airframe, was started under FAA observation using the same mixture of aviation and automotive gas onboard the day of the accident. Additionally, a digital-strobe tachometer was used, and the following was noted:

Installed Tach Setting Strobe Tach Setting 1000 RPM 770 RPM 1700 RPM 1370 RPM 2200 RPM 1730 RPM 2350 RPM (REDLINE) 1870 RPM 2600 RPM (FULL THROTTLE) 2070 RPM

The pilot stated that sometime between "Sun' n' Fun" of 1996, where he thought he bought the tachometer and November 25, 1996, when the aircraft was annual-inspected, he installed the tachometer. Review of the aircraft type-certificate data sheet for the installed engine/propeller combination reveals that under static conditions, the minimum rpm at full throttle should be 1950rpm.

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