On May 25, 1999, approximately 1105 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 172L, N172KB, was substantially damaged following impact with terrain after takeoff from Gunnison County Airport, Gunnison, Colorado. The private pilot, the sole occupant aboard the airplane, was not injured. The airplane was being operated by a private individual under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country personal flight which was originating at the time of the accident. No flight plan had been filed.

The pilot said that he performed a preflight inspection, and taxied to runway 24. After an engine run-up, he departed using full power. According to the pilot's NTSB accident report, at "approximately 100 to 150 feet off the surface a vibration began from the engine, immediately began loosing [sic] airspeed, lowered nose to regain airspeed (set some flaps), gradually raised nose of the airplane, (checked settings) lost airspeed, lowered nose again, to regain airspeed, raised nose, continued to lose airspeed, began looking for a place to set down." He said that he turned left approximately 90 degrees and then left another 45 degrees before he impacted the ground. The airplane came to rest inverted in a muddy field with the empennage "nearly" separated from the fuselage, and both wing spars were bent.

The pilot said that he had accumulated approximately 93 hours of flight experience, and this was his first flying trip to Colorado. A witness observed the pilot landing the evening before the accident, and reported that he "stalled it from about five feet." On the morning of the accident another witness said the pilot "porpoised the airplane during takeoff roll, and I could hear his stall warning horn going off." Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the mixture was in the full forward position. At the time of the accident, the density altitude was calculated to be 8,734 feet.

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