MIA02LA099
MIA02LA099

On May 26, 2002, about 1530 eastern daylight time, a Piper J3F-65, N33204, registered to a private individual, operating as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, collided with a power pole during takeoff climb in the vicinity of Eton, Georgia. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft received substantial damage, and the private-rated pilot and a passenger received minor injuries. The flight departed about 2 minutes before the accident.

According to the pilot, he could see thunderstorms building in the distance, 10 to 15 miles away. He and his passenger decided to depart before the weather got any closer. On takeoff, about 60 feet agl, the aircraft encountered a "down pressure" that subjected the aircraft to a sinking condition of about half altitude gained. Power was insufficient to regain enough altitude to climb over power lines ahead, and the pilot elected to fly under the power lines and attempt a landing in a field. The right wing collided with a power line pole, and the aircraft impacted the terrain, right wing down. He estimated the surface wind to be 5 to 6 knots crossing his takeoff path from right to left, and no precipitation was encountered.

According to an FAA inspector who met with the pilot at the accident site, the right wing was severed at the inboard aileron attach point, the cockpit steel tube cage was bent, and the propeller was heavily damaged. All flight controls revealed normal deflection and continuity. Inspection of the aircraft maintenance records revealed no abnormal conditions.

The Airman's Information Manual, Chapter 7, states, "Don't land or takeoff in the face of an approaching thunderstorm. A sudden gust front of low level turbulence could cause loss of control." It further states, "Avoid by a least 20 miles any thunderstorm identified as severe or giving an intense radar echo."

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