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The Australian Transport Safety Bureau did not conduct an on-scene investigation of this occurrence.


At about 1610 central standard time on 18 April 2005 the pilot of a Cessna Aircraft Company Cutlass, registration VH-LCZ commenced the takeoff at Warooka Aeroplane Landing Area (ALA), SA. The private flight, with one pilot and two passengers, was the last of a number of planned flights that day from Warooka to Wedge Island ALA. The pilot estimated that his aircraft was about 10 kg (22 lbs) below the maximum allowable take-off weight for the aircraft. The aircrafts centre of gravity (c.g.) was not reported.

The pilot elected to take off towards the south, which resulted in a right crosswind that he described as `steady, but with a bit of swing to it. The pilot indicated that the take-off run to the south was `normal, and that he lifted the aircraft off from the runway at 60 kts indicated airspeed (KIAS) with the intent of establishing the climb at the aircraft best angle of climb speed of 67 KIAS. That was in order to avoid a house and powerlines at the southern end of the airstrip.

As the aircraft became airborne the pilot retracted the landing gear, which swings downward approximately 2 ft as it starts retracting. The pilot reported that almost immediately, the aircrafts stall warning unit activated. In response, he `lowered the nose of the aircraft towards the cruise attitude. The aircraft lost height and impacted the ground and subsequently slid to a stop on its belly. The occupants were not injured. The aircraft was substantially damaged.

The aircrafts Information Manual (manual) stated that the wing flaps should be set at zero degrees for normal takeoffs, and that the landing gear should not be retracted unless there was insufficient remaining runway to allow a wheels-down forced landing. In addition, the manual included that the aircrafts stall warning unit provides a continuous warning tone to the pilot at 5 to 10 kts above the aircrafts stall speed. With zero flap, and at zero angle of bank and maximum takeoff weight, that speed was 46 KIAS at the most rearward c.g. and 50 KIAS at the most forward c.g.


Given the reported take-off weight and nature of the load, it was likely that the aircrafts centre of gravity approached the rearward limit. In that case, a takeoff conducted in the normal take-off configuration would have meant that the stall warning unit would most likely have activated in between 51 to 56 kts indicated airspeed (KIAS).

The safety margin between the lift-off speed and the stall speed may have been eroded by the effect of any `swing in the wind during the retraction of the landing gear, and the potential for any increase in drag associated with the retraction of that gear. The relative proximity of the aircraft to the ground when the stall warning unit activated minimised the possibility for the pilot to recover the aircraft before it impacted the ground.

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