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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: ERA14CA233
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, May 11, 2014 in Indian Trail, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/09/2014
Aircraft: PIPER PA 28-180, registration: N15230
Injuries: 1 Minor, 3 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot stated that he intended to perform a short field takeoff due to trees at the end of the 2,350-foot-long runway. A pretakeoff engine run up revealed no anomalies, and the pilot initiated the takeoff with the wing flaps extended 10 degrees. "Immediately" after takeoff, the pilot raised the flaps, and felt as though the airplane's nose was "pushed down." The airplane contacted trees at the end of the runway and subsequently impacted the ground, resulting in substantial damage to the fuselage, both wings, and the engine firewall. Postaccident examination of the airplane and engine by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. According to the airplane owner's handbook, when operating from short runways, "[takeoff] distances can be reduced appreciably by lowering flaps to 25 degrees." The Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3A further stated, "On short-field takeoffs, the landing gear and flaps should remain in takeoff position until clear of obstacles and [best rate of climb] has been established. It is usually advisable to raise the flaps in increments to avoid sudden loss of lift."

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot's improper flap retraction during a short field takeoff, which resulted in the aircraft experiencing an aerodynamic stall and impact with trees.