On September 23, 2001, about 1750 eastern daylight time, a Boeing E75N1 (Stearman), N57940, was substantially damaged during takeoff from Old Rhinebeck Airport (NY94), Rhinebeck, New York. The certificated private pilot and passenger were not inured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. The flight was destined for Cooperstown-Westville Airport (K23), Cooperstown, New York.

The pilot reported that the taxi and pre-takeoff check seemed normal. He departed runway 02, a 2,200-foot long turf runway. During the initial climb, about 50 feet above the ground and with 500 feet of runway remaining, the engine "coughed." However, the engine continued to develop full power. The pilot added the engine had "coughed" in the past, but it was uncommon. With only 200 feet of runway remaining, the climb rate decreased. The pilot verified a correct climb speed of 65 mph and full engine power, but the airplane did not clear trees at the end of the runway. It came to rest in the trees, and the wings and fuselage were damaged.

The pilot further stated the he had flown out of NY94 approximately 20 times during the past 2 years. The wind was usually out of the south, and he usually cleared the trees by 100 feet. On the day of the accident, the wind was a 4-5 knot direct crosswind. During the accident takeoff, there was approximately 33 gallons of fuel on board, and the airplane held a total of 46 gallons of useable fuel. The airplane was equipped with a metal propeller that was "in the middle," neither a climb nor cruise propeller. The pilot added that there were no performance charts for the airplane, "it liked to climb out at 65 mph and stalled at 55 mph." Additionally, about 1 week after the accident, some witnesses told the pilot that the engine didn't quite sound the same during the accident takeoff as it normally did. However, nobody could positively confirm a power loss.

The pilot reported a total flight experience of 1,203 hours, of which, 117 hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector did not reveal any pre-impact mechanical malfunctions. The inspector attained at least "80/80" compression on all cylinders, and the magnetos sparked at all leads. The inspector added the pilot was using autogas, but it was absent of contamination.

The reported wind at an airport approximately 20 miles south of the accident site, at 1753, was from 140 degrees at 3 knots.

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