ATL00LA060
ATL00LA060

On June 7, 2000, about 1900 central daylight time, a Cessna 172H, N2849L, registered to and operated by the pilot, was substantially damaged when it collided with trees and the ground during initial climb following takeoff from a private airstrip near Foley, Alabama. The private pilot and one passenger received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated at 2030.

According to the pilot, prior to landing at the 1,000-foot private airstrip, he performed a visual survey of the area and noted that there were 30 to 50 foot trees approximately 50 feet from the west end of the airstrip, and a line of 70-foot tall pine trees several hundred feet off the east end. According to him, he performed takeoff performance calculations using the Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) and determined that without obstacles, approximately 700 feet of ground roll would be required; to clear a 50-foot obstacle, 1,200 feet of ground roll would be required.

On the day of the accident, the pilot departed Jack Edwards Airport in Gulf Shores, Alabama. After flying in the local area for 20 minutes, he flew to the grass airstrip, located six miles to the north. According to the pilot, the winds were out of the southeast at five to seven knots, and he selected runway 9. During the pilot's first touch and go landing, he stated that he applied 30 degrees of flaps and touched down 200 feet from the runway threshold. He applied full power and "began to retract the flaps." He stated that approximately 2 seconds later, the airplane was again airborne and he "released the flap switch, not wanting to lose lift once airborne." During initial climb following takeoff, the airplane cleared the first set of trees. Shortly thereafter, the airplane's landing gear clipped a second line of trees. The airplane then collided with the ground nose first, coming to rest 500 feet off the end of the runway. According to the pilot, the airplane never stalled.

According to the 1967 Cessna 172H AFM, normal and obstacle clearance takeoffs are performed with wing flaps in the up position. The use of 10 degrees of flaps will shorten the ground run by 10 percent, but the advantage is lost in the climb to a 50-foot obstacle. The use of 10 degrees flaps is reserved for minimum ground runs or for takeoff from soft or rough fields with no obstacles ahead. In addition, it states that "flap settings of 30 to 40 degrees are not recommended at any time for takeoff." Procedures for balked landings (go-around) instruct the pilot to reduce the flaps to 20 degrees immediately after full power is applied. Upon reaching a safe airspeed, the flaps should be slowly retracted to the full up position.

Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the wing flap actuator was extended 5.9 inches. According to an engineering representative with the Cessna Aircraft Company, 5.9 inches equates to a 40-degree flap setting. There is no performance data in the AFM for takeoffs with 40 degrees of flaps.

According to the pilot, there were no mechanical discrepancies with the airplane.

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