Plane sinks after pilot fails to remove gust lock before flight

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The pilot reported that, before the flight, he was rushed and did not follow the preflight checklist. During the takeoff with the Cessna 172 near maximum gross weight with three passengers on board, he noticed that it was accelerating slowly but that the airspeed was sufficient.

He applied elevator back pressure to rotate, but he immediately noticed that the control lock was still in place on the yoke, and he attempted to remove it, to no avail.

He added that he did not recall trying to abort the takeoff or reduce power.

The airplane overran the end of the runway at the airport in St. Petersburg, Florida, hit water, and turned over before sinking. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and empennage.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to remove the gust lock before flight, which resulted in the airplane’s inability to rotate and a subsequent runway overrun. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to follow the preflight checklist.

NTSB Identification: GAA19CA085

This November 2018 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

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