CHI03LA038
CHI03LA038

On December 13, 2002, at 1845 eastern standard time, a Piper PA28-181, N793MA, piloted by a private pilot, was substantially damaged when it departed the runway and came to rest in a plowed field adjacent to the airport. The airplane was attempting to takeoff from runway 36 (3,433 feet x 40 feet, asphalt) at the Greensburg-Decatur County Airport (I34), Greensburg, Indiana. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The business flight was operated under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91, on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The pilot reported minor injuries. The intended destination was the Logansport Municipal Airport (GGP), Logansport, Indiana.

The pilot noted in his written statement that when he arrived at the airport for his IFR flight there was snow present on the ground, as well as on the aircraft. He reported that he conducted a preflight inspection and cleared the snow from the aircraft. He stated that after start-up, he back taxied to runway 36, announced his intentions on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF), and began the takeoff. He reported, "As I started to lift off, suddenly the plane skid" and started to go toward the east side of the runway. He went on to note that to avoid a collision, " I turned the plane to the west and tried to reduce speed, but the plane was out of control... ." The aircraft impacted two fences and came to rest approximately 130 feet off the west side of the runway in an adjacent field.

The airport manager, who witnessed the accident aircraft attempting to takeoff, stated: "It was snowing fairly heavy, with a couple of inches of slush on the runway". He reported that it was almost a "white out" condition, and estimated visibility as approximately 1/4 mile. "As I was watching him go past the intersection, which is about 2/3 down the runway, it appeared he didn't have much airspeed. I could see the aircraft's nose bouncing up and down like he was trying to get it out of ground effect." He noted that there were continuous main gear tracks in the snow from the point where the takeoff run began to the point where the aircraft came to a stop.

Documentation supplied by the FAA inspector on-scene, indicated the aircraft accurately tracked the runway centerline for less than one-tenth of a mile. At the point the nose wheel lifted off the ground, the aircraft's path drifted toward, and subsequently off, the left side of the runway. The tracks then turned back toward the runway centerline. However the aircraft's path continued across and departed the right side of the runway. Again, the tracks turned back toward the runway centerline. The aircraft crossed the runway and came to a rest off of the left side of the runway.

The departure airport did not have weather reporting capability. Conditions at the Columbus Municipal Airport (BAK), located 18 miles west of I34, at 1850 est, were reported as: overcast at 500 feet agl, 1-1/2 miles visibility in light snow, wind from 360 degrees at 10 knots, and temperature at 0 degrees Celcius.

The pilot stated that there were no abnormalities with the controls, and no malfunctions with the aircraft. A post-accident examination also revealed no anomalies.

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