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N55175 accident description

West Virginia map... West Virginia list
Crash location 38.686944°N, 80.651667°W
Nearest city Sutton, WV
38.664544°N, 80.709819°W
3.5 miles away
Tail number N55175
Accident date 13 Jun 2003
Aircraft type Boeing A75N1(PT17)
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On June 13, 2003, at 1915 eastern daylight time, a Boeing Stearman PT17, N55175, was substantially damaged when it collided with trees and terrain during take-off from Braxton County Airport (48I), Sutton, West Virginia. The certificated airline transport pilot and the passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a written statement, the pilot said he was concerned with the field elevation (1,270 feet msl), aircraft weight, heat, and humidity before the flight. He elected to depart to the north (runway 01) where the terrain appeared to be lower than to the south, and the winds appeared calm. During the takeoff roll, the pilot felt a "slightly slower acceleration than normal." After an "abnormally" long takeoff roll, and bouncing twice on the runway, the airplane began to climb in ground effect.

The pilot said that he considered aborting the takeoff twice, but was concerned that there was not enough available runway to land, and felt that he would be able to out climb the terrain located at the end of the runway.

As the airplane left ground effect, its climb rate was "barely" 100 feet per minute. When the pilot realized that he would not clear the terrain, he lowered the nose in an attempt to gain airspeed. He located an area of lower terrain, made a shallow right turn, and attempted to fly through the area. However, the airplane sank into the trees and rolled.

During the flight, the pilot verified that the throttle was full forward and the engine instruments indicated full power. He said the engine sounded as if it was "normally producing full power."

The pilot reported two causes of the accident; "the aircraft's heavy weight with 3/4 fuel and heavy weight of the crew", and "the pilot's unfamiliarity with the aircraft's performance in high-density altitude operations."

The pilot also reported a total of 2,450 flight hours, of which, 12 flight hours were in make and model.

Runway 01 was a 4,000-foot-long and 60-foot-wide asphalt runway.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector examined the wreckage on June 14, 2003. According to the inspector, the left top and bottom wings exhibited impact damage, and the right top and bottom wings were separated from the airplane. The propeller and tail control surfaces were also damaged.

The weather at Braxton County Airport, at 1851, was reported as winds from 270 degrees at 5 knots, temperature 73 degrees F, dewpoint 63 degrees F, and barometric pressure setting of 29.92 inches Hg. The visibility was 10 statute miles and clear skies.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to abort the takeoff in a timely manner. Factors included the high density altitude conditions, and the pilot's lack of familiarity with the airplane's high density altitude performance characteristics.

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