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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: GAA15CA292
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, September 29, 2015 in Lake City, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/03/2015
Aircraft: CUBCRAFTERS CC11-160, registration: N4HW
Injuries: 2 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 of the tailwheel-equipped airplane was departing from a mountain airport situated in a valley. The pilot reported that during takeoff, he rotated about 52-54 miles per hour, and about 20 feet above the ground, a strong crosswind from the left pushed the airplane to right of the runway centerline. The pilot attempted to overcome the effect of the wind with control inputs, but the airplane collided with trees on the right side of the runway. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings, fuselage, and empennage.

An FAA inspector who went to the accident site reported that the pilot rotated approximately 400 feet and impacted trees about 621 feet from where the takeoff roll was initiated. The FAA inspector estimated there was at least an additional 2,000 feet of useable runway remaining. The field elevation was 9,300 feet MSL and density altitude was calculated as 12,600 feet. The performance charts for this airplane stop at 8000 feet and required extrapolation for the airport elevation and weather conditions. Calculations by the FAA inspector estimated a minimum takeoff roll of 425 feet before rotation under ideal conditions for weather and mixture setting.

A witness reported the pilot was "hot dogging" and was trying to show off when the pilot took off in a very short distance and climbed at a steep angle. The witness reported that the airplane aerodynamically stalled, collided with trees and came to rest in a ditch. The witness also reported that the wind was calm at the time of the takeoff and accident.

The airplane came to rest on private property that abutted the airport, and the witness reported that the landowner dragged the airplane onto airport property with a tractor. The airplane wreckage was not photographed by the FAA inspector before it was moved.

Eight other airplanes of similar make and model departed the field about the time of the accident without incident.

The pilot reported no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot's failure during takeoff to attain sufficient airspeed for conditions, and to maintain yaw control and a positive rate of climb, resulting in a loss of directional control, an uncontrolled descent, and collision with trees and terrain.