ANC00LA013
ANC00LA013

On November 15, 1999, at 1206 Alaska standard time, a Maule M7-235C airplane, N5657A, sustained substantial damage when it contacted trees during takeoff from the Four Corners airstrip, Palmer, Alaska, at 61 degrees 36 minutes north latitude, 149 degrees 28 minutes west longitude. The solo commercial pilot was not injured. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 as a business flight to the pilot's hunting lodge. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and a VFR flight plan was filed.

During a telephone interview with the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) on November 15, the owner of the 1,500 feet long by 100 feet wide airstrip, who witnessed the accident, said winds and downdrafts were strong and gusty, and "rolling over the trees." The witness indicated that when the airplane became airborne, the wind pushed it to the left into the tops of the trees. He added the engine was operating until it struck trees.

During a telephone interview with the NTSB IIC on November 15, the pilot stated that after warming up the airplane, he waited for a lull in the wind to begin the takeoff roll to the north. The airplane came off the ground about 400 feet into the takeoff roll, earlier than he expected. He said that when the airplane climbed to the level of the tree tops, the strong right crosswind required almost a 90 degree crab. He related that the winds were gusty, and he felt the airplane was on the edge of stalling. The left wing contacted trees, and the plane settled into the trees upright.

The automated weather observation from the New Wasilla Airport, Alaska, four miles west of Four Corners airstrip, at 1215, recorded winds from 040 degrees at 13 knots, gusting to 25 knots.

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