Crash 172 Low, Slow, Possibly Overweight

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An NTSB preliminary report into the crash of a Kemper Aviation Cessna 172S that killed the company’s co-owner, Jeff Rozelle, and three others earlier this month near Indiantown, Fla., suggests the aircraft could have been overloaded by as much as 200 pounds. The report says it was carrying 808 pounds of people and baggage and had flown 1.5 hours after being topped up to a full 56 gallons of fuel. That would have left approximately 46 gallons (about 275 pounds) in the tanks at the time of the crash, for a total weight of about 1083 pounds. Useful load on the crash airplane was 861.8 pounds. Only 9.5 gallons was recovered from the tanks but the fuel and vent lines from both tanks were broken in the crash.

The report says witnesses saw the plane flying slowly at about 200 to 250 feet AGL when "the nose dropped and the tail went straight up." The flaps were set at 14 degrees and there was five degrees of up elevator trim. Witnesses said engine noise increased as the plane spun and the throttle was found fully advanced. It was the third fatal crash for the company in less than six months and it suspended operations pending an FAA investigation.