On February 17, 2010, at 1424 Pacific standard time, a Fouga CM 170 Magistar, N6222N, collided with terrain during takeoff from runway 32 at Imperial County Airport, Imperial, California. The airline transport pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The pilot was not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed.

The pilot reported that he had stopped at the airport to refuel and was departing from runway 32 when the accident occurred. After completing his pre-takeoff checklists, he departed down the runway. During the takeoff roll, the airplane's nose rose and the pilot pushed the stick forward. The pilot reported that the airplane was slower than normal and after reaching 100 knots, the airplane lifted from the runway. The pilot attempted to obtain 140 knots; however, the airplane "pitched up, rolled, and yawed to the right." He indicated that he shut the engines and electrical system down, and then exited the airplane. His initial assessment was that a gust of wind blew the airplane off of the runway. In a later statement, he indicated that he thought the airplane could have experienced drag from a clear coat of paint that was peeling, allowing sand to accumulate on the wings and result in drag.

The local fire department responded to the accident site. Fire department personnel advised the pilot to shut down the engines and get out of the airplane. The pilot was having difficulty shutting down the engines and airport personnel responded to the airplane and shut the engines down.

A witness, who was employed as a captain for Skywest Airlines, was standing at the terminal and observed the accident airplane. He saw the airplane taxiing and noted that the speed brakes were deployed on both sides. The airplane began the takeoff roll on runway 32 and was approximately 1,500 feet down the runway when it appeared the pilot “jerked the nose off of the runway.” The airplane did not accelerate and when it broke ground, it climbed 15 to 20 feet in the air and continued flying in ground effect. The right and left wings alternately dropped, and then the left wing stalled, the airplane rolled, and twisted to the right 110 degrees. Due to his location, the witness could not see the speed brakes during the takeoff. The witness indicated that the airplane appeared to rotate too early. At the time, the winds were reported as light and variable. The witness did not hear a change in engine noise until after the airplane impacted the ground.

A Federal Aviation Administration inspector examined the airplane. The left main landing gear punctured through the right wing, the right main gear had separated, and there were multiple areas of damage to the fuselage belly. The right speed brake was deployed approximately halfway. The left speed brake was found stowed. No mechanical anomalies were identified.

The speed brakes are electrically controlled and hydraulically operated. To set the position of the speed brakes, the pilot activates a switch in the cockpit, looks at the speed brakes, and releases the switch when the speed brakes are in the appropriate position based on the visual reference. During the landing approach, the speed brakes are normally deployed halfway.

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