On September 10, 2000, about 1330 hours mountain standard time, a Piper PA-28-180, N4208T, collided with a tree during an attempted takeoff from the Payson Airport, Payson, Arizona. The pilot owned and operated the airplane. The airplane sustained substantial damage. Neither the private pilot nor the three passengers was injured during the flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed, and no flight plan was filed. The personal flight was performed under 14 CFR Part 91, and it was originating at the time of the accident.

The pilot reported to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator that no engine roughness was noted during the pretakeoff engine check, and the magneto drop was within limits. The engine's mixture was leaned for the high density altitude condition, and the takeoff roll from runway 24 commenced. The airplane's nose pitched up, the airplane yawed left and right, and the tail contacted the runway surface. Thereafter, control was lost and the airplane impacted runway lights and came to rest after colliding with a tree.

The pilot further reported that the combined weight of all the occupants was about 585 pounds. About 30 gallons of fuel were in the fuel tanks. He also indicated that no mechanical malfunctions were experienced during the flight.

The outside air temperature was about 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Payson's runway 24 is 5,500 feet long, and the airport's elevation is about 5,157 feet mean sea level. The calculated density altitude was approximately 7,650 feet (plus or minus about 100 feet).

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a private pilot certificate to the pilot on August 24, 2000. The pilot reported that by the accident date, his total flying experience was 75.3 hours, and his experience in the accident airplane was about 27 hours.

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