SEA07LA163
SEA07LA163

On June 17, 2007, at 1354 Pacific daylight time, a Beech B24R, N6511R, impacted terrain following a loss of control during the takeoff initial climb from runway 33 at the Tonopah Airport, Tonopah, Nevada. The airplane sustained substantial damage, the pilot received minor injuries, and the passenger received serious injuries. The airline transport pilot, who held private pilot privileges in single engine land airplanes, was operating the airplane under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal cross country flight that was originating when the accident occurred, and a Visual Flight Rules flight plan was filed. The intended destination was Cedar City, Utah.

The pilot reported that during the takeoff initial climb, at approximately 30 feet above ground level (AGL) and halfway down the runway, he initiated the landing gear retraction. The landing gear legs retracted at different rates, inducing "momentary, but noticeable yaw." Simultaneously with the induced yaw, the pilot side cabin door opened approximately 3 to 4 inches and the pilot felt "a loss of lift" in the aircraft. The aircraft rolled to a right bank of 30 degrees and a nose down attitude of 20 degrees. The pilot attempted to correct for the roll and pitch, but did not have sufficient altitude. The aircraft impacted the ground in a nose-down attitude approximately 300 feet to the right of the runway.

Weather reported at Tonopah Airport, elevation 5,426 feet Mean Sea Level (MSL), at 1356 local time, was wind from 290 degrees at 13 knots, gusting to 25 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear skies, temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point of 9 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure setting of 30.11 inches of Mercury. The calculated density altitude was 8,400 feet.

Post accident inspections by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed nothing remarkable with the aircraft. Both sets of the left and right door latches were found to operate freely and retracted fully when using the internal and external door handles.

In weight and balance calculations computed by the pilot, the airplane, at departure, was estimated to be 4 pounds under its maximum gross weight of 2,750 pounds.

In 1990, Beechcraft Aircraft Corporation issued a Safety Communique concerning cabin door operation/openings. The Communique states that an open cabin door does not change an airplane's flight characteristics. However, it does state that an aircraft's climb performance can be decreased up to 130 feet per minute from handbook values, and that the decrease in climb performance can be more significant at high density altitudes.

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