On October 10, 2009, about 1545 eastern daylight time, a Beech E35, N3515B, was substantially damaged during a takeoff attempt from a hayfield in Mount Morris, New York. The certificated private pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the local personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to initial reports from the pilot, the airplane had a history of the entry door popping open during takeoff and he was trying to troubleshoot the problem. The pilot attempted to take off from runway 4 at J.C. Palermo Airpark, Mount Morris, New York, a 1,200-foot runway at an elevation of 962 feet. However, when the door popped open, he became startled and aborted the takeoff, but too late to stay on the runway. The pilot also acknowledged that he attempted to take off downwind.

In a later telephone interview, the pilot confirmed that he attempted the downwind takeoff, and while doing so, the airplane’s door opened. He also stated that the airplane never left the ground, and he therefore was conducting a high speed taxi. However, as noted in a state police report, three witnesses reported that the airplane did take off, with one stating that it reached an altitude of about 25 feet above the runway, before it landed in a hayfield beyond the end of the runway.

The pilot never mentioned a second takeoff attempt. Two of the three witnesses stated that after landing in the hayfield beyond the runway, the pilot got out, inspected the airplane, and stated, “I think everything’s okay.” He later taxied the airplane across the hayfield and made a second takeoff attempt from there rather than the runway. Both witnesses indicated that the airplane briefly became airborne again before settling back down onto the field.

The state police report noted ground scars about 600 feet in length which led through a hedgerow and across the drainage ditch to the airplane, which sustained fuselage and left wing damage.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the ground scars headed northeast toward the airplane. In addition, the hayfield had a rough, uneven surface to it.

The pilot stated that, other than the access door, there were no mechanical anomalies with the airplane.

The pilot’s latest FAA medical certificate was “pending” as of May 23, 2000. According to a list provided to the FAA inspector, the pilot was utilizing prescribed medications on a daily basis, including alprazolam, carbamazepine, fluoxetine, and buspirone.

The pilot also stated that he had lost his logbook and had not had a biennial flight review “in a few years,” but continued to fly on a regular basis.

Weather, recorded at the airport in Dansville, New York, about 12 nautical miles (nm) to the southeast, at 1554, included winds from 280 degrees true at 8 knots. Weather, recorded at the airport in Rochester, New York, about 25 nm to the northeast, at 1554, included winds from 280 degrees true at 6 knots.

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