On August 21, 2001, about 1545 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 177, N30247 was substantially damaged when it struck trees during takeoff from a field in Davidsville, Pennsylvania. The certificated private pilot received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the ferry flight. No flight plan had been filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

On August 15, 2001, the pilot departed White Plains, New York, en route to Blue Ash, Ohio, in the same airplane. He made a refueling stop at Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Upon departure from Johnstown, while climbing through 6,000 feet, the engine lost power. The pilot performed a forced landing to a field in Davidsville with no damages or injury. An inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that water was found in the main sump drain and carburetor. Micro growth was also found in the water, and the airplane was 4 months overdue for an annual inspection. The carburetor and fuel system were cleaned, and another inspector issued a ferry permit for a flight to Johnstown. Fuel was downloaded from the airplane to make it lighter.

According to the pilot, he attempted to take off from the field where he had made the forced landing. He was able to get the airplane airborne; however, it would not accelerate. The pilot then made a 30-degree turn to the right, away from power lines which were ahead of him. After the turn, there was a house ahead of him to the left, and trees to the right. He aimed the airplane toward the trees. The airplane impacted the trees, the wings sheared off, and the airplane came to rest inverted.

The FAA inspector reported that the grass and clover in the field had been cut to a length of 2 to 3 inches for a distance of 1,500 feet. The pilot initiated his takeoff in the area of cut grass. However, after about 900 feet of travel, the mowed area closely paralleled the right side of a corn field. Because his left wing would have overlapped the corn, the pilot elected to change course to the right, into an area that was not mowed. The unmowed area was covered by patchy areas of clover and higher grass. Tire tracks then turned about 30 degrees further right. After a total ground roll of about 1,150 feet, the airplane passed over a low dirt embankment, became momentarily airborne and then settled back to the ground. The airplane continued on its new heading and went through a wire fence. It then went through trees, and came to rest near a residence. Part of the wire fence had been dragged by the airplane and was found entangled in the landing gear. The fuel tanks were ruptured.

The FAA inspector also reported that examination of a photograph of the airplane during the takeoff roll revealed that the wing flaps were in the up or retracted position.

According to page 2-9 of the 1968 Cessna Cardinal and 177 Owner's Manual:

"Normal take-offs are accomplished with the wing flaps set in the 'UP' or '1/4' position. The use of '1/4' flaps will shorten the ground run approximately 10%. Soft field take-offs are performed with the flaps in the '1/4' position by lifting the airplane off the ground as soon as practical in a slightly tail-low attitude. However, the airplane should be leveled off immediately to accelerate to a safe climb speed."

The FAA inspector also reported that post-crash examination of the airplane found the magneto switch in the left magneto position. The magneto switch was a rotary switch mounted on the lower left instrument panel. The positions when rotated in a clockwise direction were off, left, right, both, and start. The spark plugs that were operated by the left magneto were clean, while the spark plugs that were operated by the right magneto were sooty, but not fouled. The magneto switch was described as stiff, with no play.

According to Page 2-7 of the Owner's manual, the magneto check is made by moving the magneto switch from the both position, to right position, then back to the both position, then to the left position, and then back to the both position.

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