On September 9, 2008, about 1030 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20C, N21MY, registered to and operated by a private individual, collided with trees during takeoff from Henderson Field Airport (ACZ), Wallace, North Carolina. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight from ACZ to Norfolk International Airport (ORF), Norfolk, Virginia. The airplane was substantially damaged and the commercial-certificated pilot, the sole occupant, sustained minor injuries. The flight originated about 1 minute earlier.

The pilot stated that the fuel tanks were filled after landing the night before, and the airplane was then secured. He installed the pitot tube cover but did not install the cabin cover or the engine cowling plugs. The next morning he obtained a preflight weather briefing and preflighted the airplane using a checklist. After starting the engine he taxied to runway 27, and performed an engine run-up; no discrepancies were reported. He reviewed the before takeoff checklist and applied power with no engine discrepancies noted. He rotated at 63 knots, and when the flight was at 100 feet above ground level (agl), he noticed a sudden loss of engine power. He confirmed all throttle controls were full forward and the auxiliary fuel pump was on. He was unable to maintain altitude and executed a forced landing into the tops of trees that were ahead and past the departure end of the runway. The airplane then descended and impacted the ground. He advised the FAA inspector-in-charge that prior to tree contact, he looked at the fuel pressure gauge and noted the reading was below the green arc.

According to the airport manager, who helped the pilot fill the fuel tanks the night before, and who also witnessed the entire flight, the pilot taxied to the approach end of runway 27 but he did not hear an engine run-up before takeoff. He noticed the pilot had the first notch of flaps extended, and during the takeoff roll, he perceived the engine was not developing full power though it was running smooth with no missing or sputtering. He advised the pilot on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) to apply full power but he didn't respond. The airplane rotated short of midfield down the 3,850 foot-long runway, and was slow to leave the runway. The airplane remained in ground effect for most of the remaining runway, and climbed no higher than 60-80 feet on runway heading. The witness further reported he did not see any smoke trailing the airplane during the flight.

Examination of the accident site and wreckage by the FAA-IIC several hours after the accident revealed the airplane came to rest with the empennage approximately 30 degrees past vertical, with the engine and right wing contacting the ground. Although the FAA-IIC did not smell fuel while on-scene, first responders reported smelling fuel. The fuel selector was positioned to the right tank, and the auxiliary fuel pump switch was found in the off position. No breach of either fuel tank was noted; however, fuel had leaked from the right tank fuel vent. The landing gear was down and locked, and the mixture and propeller controls were full forward, while the throttle control was approximately 3/4 full forward.

During recovery of the airplane, green colored foam and red lanyard material were noted wedged against the engine baffling behind the propeller spinner bulkhead. No blockage of the air induction filter was noted. Following recovery of the airplane, a replacement propeller was installed, and the engine was started and operated to full power as indicated by the tachometer using only the engine-driven fuel pump; no discrepancies were noted. Additionally, the electric fuel pumped operated satisfactorily providing fuel pressure to the normal operating range prior to starting the engine. Following the engine run, red colored lanyard was noted on top of the cylinders. The lanyard material was consistent with material used as streamers for ram air inlet plugs. The recovered foam material was torn and ripped.

There were no reported discrepancies from the pilots of airplanes fueled from the same source as the accident airplane.

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