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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: CEN14FA453
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 25, 2014 in Willoughby Hills, OH
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/09/2015
Aircraft: CESSNA 172R, registration: N4207P
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot and three passengers boarded the airplane for a local flight at night. The controller cleared the flight for takeoff and observed the airplane lift off about 2,000 feet down the runway. Shortly after liftoff, the pilot contacted the controller and reported that the airplane was not "climbing fast" and that he wanted to make a left turn to return to the airport. The controller approved the left turn and observed the airplane begin a left turn and descend to impact with the terrain. A postimpact fire ensued. Examination of the accident site indicated that the airplane impacted in a steep descent. The witness observations and the impact geometry are consistent with the pilot failing to maintain adequate airspeed while turning to return to the airport, resulting in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall. A postaccident examination of the airplane and engine did not reveal any anomalies that would have prevented normal operation of the aircraft. Weight and balance calculations showed that the airplane was between 93.6 and 165.6 pounds over maximum gross weight at the time of the accident. The decreased takeoff climb performance reported by the pilot was likely due to the airplane's over gross weight condition.






The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane while returning to the airport immediately after takeoff, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and entering an aerodynamic stall during the turn. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's inadequate preflight planning, which resulted in the airplane being over maximum gross weight and its subsequent decrease in takeoff climb performance.