While attempting a takeoff from an improvised runway at about 1800 Eastern Daylight-saving Time on 15 December 2011, an Auster Aircraft Ltd J5F (Auster), registered VH-AFT (AFT), failed to climb sufficiently to clear a fence in a paddock 1 km south of Tyabb aeroplane landing area (ALA), Victoria. The aircraft was seriously damaged when it came to rest inverted. The owner-pilot, the only occupant, received minor injuries.
The pressure perceived by the pilot to get the aircraft back to Tyabb may have lead him to make the decision to takeoff in less than ideal circumstances. An earlier successful forced landing may also have contributed to the accident in that it boosted the pilot's confidence in his ability to retrieve the aircraft from the paddock.
This accident highlights the need for pilots to be aware that pressure can come about for a variety of reasons, and of the importance of understanding one's personal limitations. By making decisions pre-flight, being mindful of pressures and by setting and sticking to personnel minimums, pilots can reduce the risk of being involved in an accident.
Prior to conducting any unusual operation, a pilot should carefully consider all options and seek the most accurate information available. Threat and error management (TEM) training has the potential to provide significant safety benefits to the general aviation (GA) community.