On July 24, 1999, at 0915 hours mountain standard time an amateur-built experimental Starduster II, N102E, collided with a tree during the takeoff initial climb from the Winslow-Lindbergh Regional Airport, Winslow, Arizona. The aircraft sustained substantial damage; however, the certificated commercial pilot and his pilot-rated passenger were not injured. The aircraft was owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 when the accident occurred. The flight was originating at the time as a personal cross-country flight to Moriarity, New Mexico. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed.

The pilot reported that he lifted off from runway 04 at between 65 and 70 mph after a 4,000-foot takeoff roll. He made his initial climb at 71 to 75 mph until the aircraft reached approximately 250 feet agl. As the flight progressed to a point about 0.25 miles from the departure end of the runway, the pilot noticed that the controls were becoming sluggish and the aircraft was no longer climbing and had begun a descent. He verified that he had full throttle, noting that the engine tachometer was indicating about 2,450 rpm. As the aircraft descended, the pilot's attention was now drawn to obstacles in his flight path. He began a shallow, 5- to 10-degree banked, turn to the right, while maintaining about 68 to 71 mph. Estimating that with his continued descent he would be unable to clear the utility lines that lay immediately ahead, the pilot chose instead to sacrifice about 50 feet of altitude while continuing in the turn. As he approached a paved road that ran parallel to the utility lines, the aircraft's right wing struck a tree. After the impact the aircraft became uncontrollable, descending through the remaining 20 to 25 feet of altitude until colliding with terrain next to the roadway.

The airport is located at an elevation of 4,941 feet msl. The reported temperature and winds at the time of the accident were 81 degrees Fahrenheit and 060 degrees at 7 knots. Density altitude was computed by Safety Board investigators to be 7,407 feet.

The maximum allowable takeoff weight was 1,985 pounds. The actual takeoff weight was estimated by Safety Board investigators to be approximately 1,620 pounds. Power was supplied to the aircraft by a normally aspirated 150 horsepower (hp) engine with a fixed pitch propeller. The engine manufacturer stated that the engine was capable of producing 118 hp at full throttle under the density altitude conditions existing at the time of takeoff.

The pilot stated that there were no mechanical malfunctions with the engine or airframe.

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