Airplane Lifted Off The Ground, The Flaps Remained Down,  And The Airplane Appeared To Be Laboring

Location: Wauwatosa, WI Accident Number: CEN22FA214
Date & Time: May 26, 2022, 14:56 Local Registration: N4978B
Aircraft: Cessna 152 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On May 26, 2022, at 1456 central daylight time, a Cessna 152, N4978B, sustained substantial damage when it was involved in an accident near Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

Witnesses reported that the airplane touched down long on the runway surface, then took off again. When the airplane lifted off the ground, the flaps remained down,  and the airplane appeared to be laboring. The airplane climbed just above tree height in a nose high attitude. Shortly thereafter, the wing dropped, and the airplane descended out of view.

ADS-B data indicated that the pilot took off from runway 22R and conducted a left traffic pattern. On initial climb, the airplane had a groundspeed between 55-60 mph. The airplane continued to climb on the crosswind and downwind legs, then started its descent about ¼ mile beyond the runway threshold. The airplane turned to base, then started to climb. It turned to final while about 825 ft above ground level (agl) and crossed the runway threshold about 50 ft agl at 61 mph. The airplane touched down and slowed to about 50 mph. Shortly thereafter, its speed increased, and the airplane started to gain altitude.

About 100 ft agl, the groundspeed was about 42 mph, and it decreased to 29 mph at 175 ft agl. The airplane remained about 175 ft agl for 5 seconds during which the groundspeed slowly increased to 36 mph. The airplane suddenly entered a rapid descent to the ground.

After the pilot’s second takeoff, he reported to air traffic control that he had an engine failure. Shortly thereafter, he reported that he did not have his flaps up. The airplane impacted the ground in a residential neighborhood about ¼ mile from the departure end of the runway. The airplane came to rest nose down with the engine in a deep impact crater. The cabin area extended upward, and the aft fuselage was fractured just aft of the baggage area. Both wings remained partially attached to the fuselage and their leading edges sustained aft crush damage. The airplane was recovered to a secure location for further examination.