September 6, 2010, Las Vegas, Nev., Piper PA-32RT-300


At about 0815 Pacific time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted a tree and light pole shortly after takeoff. The private pilot was killed and his three passengers sustained serious injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

A tower controller noted the airplane remained on the runway until just after the 4000-foot point and did not appear to be climbing. The controller cleared the flight for a left turnout to clear rising terrain, and asked the pilot if he was making a left downwind departure. The pilot responded “affirmative” and added he “had trouble gaining altitude.” Shortly, the pilot advised he “had to come back to the airport.” The controller cleared the airplane direct to the airport and subsequently observed the airplane descend below a tree line, followed by black smoke.

All major structural components of the airplane were within the debris path and exhibited thermal and fire damage.


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