On April 29, 2012, about 1730 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-18, N5769D, was substantially damaged when it impacted power lines and terrain during the initial climb after takeoff from the pilot's private airstrip in Pilot Mountain, North Carolina. The certificated airline transport pilot and the passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the local personal flight, which was conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the pilot reported that during the takeoff roll, he noticed that the engine was not developing full power. However, the airplane had proceeded down the runway to a point where the pilot elected to continue the takeoff. Once airborne, the airplane was unable to climb. The left wing struck power lines, and the airplane impacted the ground about 100 feet beyond them. Fuel samples subsequently taken from the engine and right wing were clear and free of water contamination. The engine rotated freely and did not exhibit any external anomalies.
Photographs provided by the FAA inspector revealed significant leading edge damage to both propeller blades.
In a written report, the pilot noted the time of the accident as 1530. He also stated that the takeoff was "normal," but after liftoff, the airplane did not seem to accelerate normally. The airplane was barely climbing when the pilot realized that he could not get it over power lines [on the other side of road that bordered the airstrip] without stalling it. The pilot then attempted to fly under the power lines, but the airplane's left wing struck the bottom wire about 20 feet above the ground, and the airplane impacted the ground "rather flat."
The pilot further stated that he had accumulated 32,000 hours of flight time with ratings for numerous transport category airplanes, as well as 500 hours in airplane make and model.
The pilot was subsequently contacted again, and during his return telephone call, he confirmed the time of the accident as 1530. He also noted that no preexisting mechanical anomalies were subsequently found, that he had started the airplane's engine about 4 to 5 minutes prior to takeoff, and that he thought carburetor icing may have been an issue.
During later telephone calls, a representative of the Surry County Emergency Services stated that the accident was called in at 1729, and a representative of Duke Energy stated that its responders were on scene beginning at 1804. The FAA's published notification time was at 1745, and local news organizations characterized the accident as occurring shortly before 1730.
The pilot reported the takeoff runway as dry turf, about 1,900 feet long and 50 feet wide, and online mapping indicated that it was oriented about 320 degrees magnetic. The runway rose about 14 feet from the threshold to the departure end. Beyond the departure end of the runway there was a road that ran perpendicular to it, and on the far side of the road, there was the set of transmission lines that paralleled the road.
Weather, recorded at an airport 3 nautical miles to the northwest, at 1535, included wind from 150 degrees true at 6 knots, temperature 26 degrees C, and dew point 16 degrees C. An FAA carburetor icing probability chart indicated "serious icing at glide power."
Weather, recorded at the same airport at 1735, included wind from 190 degrees true at 3 knots, temperature 26 degrees C, and dew point 15 degrees C, yielding the same carburetor icing probability.
According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1956. The Owner's Manual from that time did not include expected takeoff distances.