On May 23, 1999, approximately 1230 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140, N6216W, recently purchased and being flown by a private pilot, was substantially damaged during a collision with trees following an aborted takeoff at a private airstrip near Lyman, Washington. The pilot and passenger were uninjured. Visual meteorological conditions existed and no flight plan had been filed. The flight, which was personal, was to have been operated under 14CFR91, and originated from Bellingham, Washington, approximately 1130.

The pilot reported that he "took off from [the] privite [sic] field using short field take [off] procedures. Brakes set, stick back, full power. Released brakes and started down [the] runway. Twords [sic] [the] end of [the] runway I pulled 1 notch of flaps. At about that time I could see I was about out of runway. I waited until the end then pulled the plane in the air. I knew I was to [sic] slow to fly but needed to get over the fence at the end & had about 1000' of field after the runway to fly in ground effect & try & build airspeed. About 500' or so from the tree line I could see there was just no way to get over the trees or build enough airspeed, so I pulled all power and landed in what room was left. [I] applied full brakes, then I could tell I wasn't going to stop in time, so I turned the airplane just a little to the left & crashed between 2 trees which pulled the wings off and absorbed most of the energy and we stoped [sic] nose down in the creek." (refer to attached NTSB Form 6120.1/2)

The pilot was telephonically interviewed by the investigator-in-charge following the accident, as well as an inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Renton Flight Standards District Office. The pilot reported that after performing a satisfactory engine run-up, he initiated the takeoff with the flaps up in light wind conditions, and then applied one notch (10 degrees) of flaps during the rotation. He also reported that during the takeoff roll, as he approached the upwind end of the departure field, he pulled the aircraft off the deck and then leveled off to build airspeed in ground effect.

The pilot also reported that the outside air temperature at the accident site (approximately 250 feet above sea level) was about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. He also reported that the engine sounded strong and smooth throughout the takeoff.

The proprietor of the grass strip reported to the FAA inspector that he observed the accident and that on takeoff the aircraft's flaps "were at 0 degrees" and that "he noticed that the aircraft was maintaining a high angle of attack and not climbing upon rotation from the runway. It continued in this attitude at about 5 feet off the ground until one of the main landing gear wheels hit a fence post on the airport boundary fence. It then settled into the grass and the pilot appeared to have "chopped" power. It continued into the forest area approximately 600 feet after the fence where it impacted trees and came to a stop." (refer to attached statement RTC-I)

The FAA inspector who responded to the accident site reported that the east-west strip utilized by the pilot was approximately 1,680 feet in length and composed of three inch high, dry grass. A north-south fence crossed the east boundary of the strip after which another 1,000 foot field of pasture existed. This pasture was bounded on its east edge by another north-south fence. Beyond this fence lay a 300 foot wide field terminating in a 40 foot high tree line and stream along its east edge (refer to photograph 1).

The aircraft came to rest nose-down, in a near vertical attitude at the streambed edge. Both wings were observed to be separated from the fuselage and evidence of tree impacts along the wings' leading edges was observed (refer to photograph 2).

Post-crash examination by the FAA inspector revealed no evidence of any fuel, ignition or air intake discrepancies, and no evidence of a brake system malfunction. Additionally, the aircraft's propeller, a Sensenich model M74DM-0-58, was found to have a blade pitch value of 58. The blade pitch range for this propeller spans 56 to 64 with the low end associated with a climb pitch propeller and the high end associated with a cruise pitch propeller.

The Owner's Handbook for the PA-28-140 was reviewed and contained procedures for both "short field" and "soft field" takeoffs. Both procedures state: "Lower flaps to 25 degrees (second notch)," for the takeoff. (Refer to Attachment OH-I)

For "soft field" (no obstacle) takeoffs the procedure continues: "accelerate aircraft and pull nose gear from the ground as soon as possible, liftoff at lowest possible airspeed. Accelerate just above the ground to best rate of climb speed, 85 miles per hour. Climb out while slowly retracting the flaps."

For "soft field" (obstacle clearance) takeoffs the procedure continues: "accelerate aircraft, pull nose gear off as soon as possible and liftoff at lowest possible airspeed. Accelerate just above the ground to best angle of climb speed, 74 miles per hour to climb past obstacle height, continue climb while accelerating to best rate of climb speed, 85 miles per hour and slowly retract the flaps."

Additionally, the Owner's Handbook discusses take-off procedures and prefaces the short/soft field procedures with the statement "Premature or excessive raising of the nose will result in a delayed take-off. After take-off let the aircraft accelerate to the desired climb speed by lowering the nose slightly." (Refer to Attachment OH-I)

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