August 9, 2007, Leonardtown, Md., Piper PA-22-160


At 0707 Eastern time, the airplane made a forced landing to an open field on its initial takeoff climb. Visual conditions prevailed. A post-crash fire destroyed the airplane. The private pilot and one passenger reported minor injuries. The remaining passenger was transported to a local area hospital with serious injuries and died that evening.

A witness who is also a pilot and flight instructor observed the accident airplane taxi for takeoff. The witness later said the tail of the airplane was low, “as if the airplane was overloaded.” The witness also reported the accident airplanes takeoff roll was slow and long, and it used about 3000 feet of the runway before the pilot “forced [it] off the runway.” Once the airplane became airborne, its climb was “flat.” The airplane cleared trees by about 100 feet and disappeared from view behind another tree line. The witness stated he observed a plume of black smoke and knew the airplane had crashed.

The pilot said the airplane was topped off with fuel before departing. No formal performance planning was conducted. The airplanes maximum gross weight was 2000 pounds; the pilot estimated takeoff weight at 1804 pounds. When asked why he did not abort the takeoff, the pilot stated, “I never thought about it and I do not know why. I just kept the nose on the runway. I knew we were heavy and it was hot.”


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