On August 6, 2000, at 1130 Eastern Daylight Time, a Piper PA-28-140, N5731U, was substantially damaged during takeoff at the Stroudsburg-Pocono Airport, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. The certificated private pilot and both passengers received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that was destined for Mountain Meadow Airstrip, Burlington, Connecticut. No flight plan was filed, and the flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the pilot, he departed Allaire Airport, Belmar, New Jersey, and flew to East Stroudsburg. He noticed no discrepancies with the airplane during the run-up checks at Belmar, or during the flight. The landing was uneventful. Once on the ground, the pilot and passengers exited the airplane to stretch their legs before continuing onto Burlington.
After the short break, the pilot and passengers reboarded the airplane, and the pilot started the engine on the first attempt. Before taxing, he configured the airplane with two notches of flaps, and scanned the instrument panel. He then taxied to Runway 8. Once on the runway, the pilot held the brakes, and advanced the throttle. The engine responded, and rpm stabilized about 2,400. The pilot released the brakes, and the airplane accelerated "normally." About 2/3 down the 3,087-foot runway, and approximately 70 mph indicated airspeed (IAS), the pilot applied backpressure to the yoke and the airplane became airborne. Just afterwards, the pilot saw two birds pass about 10 feet in front of the airplane. He aborted the takeoff, and the airplane touched down. The pilot applied the brakes, and the airplane came to a stop at the far end of the runway. He then back taxied for a second attempt.
Again, the pilot held the brakes and advanced the throttle. The engine responded the same as during the aborted takeoff. The pilot released the brakes and the airplane accelerated. As before, the airplane became airborne, approximately 2/3 down the runway and approximately 70 mph IAS. At rotation, the pilot had no indication of any problems, but about 8 seconds afterwards, he realized that power required was more than power available. He advised his passengers that the airplane was "going down." He remembers a decay in airspeed, but said the stall horn never sounded. The airplane impacted the ground in the backyard of a house off the departure end of the runway. The pilot secured the fuel and electrical systems, and then exited the airplane, along with his passengers.
According to a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, the top sparkplugs were removed, and all four were grayish in color. The engine crankshaft was rotated by hand, and thumb compression was obtained on all four cylinders. In addition, the left magneto was rotated by hand, and ignition continuity was verified to each cylinder. The right magneto was not equipped with an impulse coupling and was not tested.
According to the takeoff performance chart in the pilot's operating handbook (POH,) the airplane would require a 1,000-foot ground run to become airborne, and a total 2,000 feet to clear a 50-foot obstacle. This information was based on an operating weight of 2,150 pounds, ambient conditions, flaps set to "0" degrees, applying full power before releasing the brakes, and maintain 59 mph until passing 50 feet agl. In addition, the POH stated that maximum rated horsepower was 150 at 2,700 rpm.
No takeoff performance information was found in the POH for using two notches (25 degrees) of flaps for takeoff. The POH did provide the following information regarding short field departure over an obstacle: select 25 degrees of flaps, accelerate to 54-62 mph of IAS, then ease back on the control yoke, and let the airplane fly itself from the ground.
A witness, who was at the airport, stated that during the first takeoff attempt, the airplane was nose high, slow, and flying in ground effect when it was about 1/3 of the way down the runway. About 2/3 down the runway, "the pilot cut power and landed." The engine ran smoothly during the first takeoff attempt, but the witness did not think it was producing full power. The airplane back taxied, and attempted another takeoff. About 1/3 of the way down the runway, the airplane was nose high, slow, and flying in ground effect. About 2/3 down the runway, the airplane had reached an altitude of 10-15 feet. At this point, it was "extremely" nose-high, slow, and had developed a pitch oscillation. The airplane continued past the end of the runway then slowly sank to the ground. Again, the engine ran smoothly, but was not developing full power.