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Overweight TO's in GA

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Active member
Nov 26, 2001
So where is the line? Just wondering what the general thoughts are on takeoffs when you are overweight. General aviation only. Would you takeoff if you are 5 pounds over? What about 50?

I don't do it, just wondering if others do or if there are any interesting stories about it.

This thread assumes the CG is well within limits.

Fly safe.
I remember years ago the story about that 12-year old girl that was attempting to fly across the US with her flight instructor. She was to be the youngest kid to fly from coast to coast. She and her instructor both were killed when the aircraft (a cessna 172 I think) crashed in Wyoming. It was overweight, and I think they were flying in icing conditions. Sad story. I guess the moral being just don't do it.
People around here seem to push the envelope all the time. Especially in a flat areas like around here, you could probably get away with 50 pounds or more depending on DA, the plane, etc...

For me, the issue is my future. I know I could probably 'safely' fly a plane 5 or 10 pounds over gross, but a ramp check or anything that would blow the whistle on me would mean the end of my dream of flying corporate or commercially down the line.

It's just not worth it. There's too much on the line.

You hit the nail on the head for me. It's just not worth it. I remember the thing I've heard from people around this board (can't remember who) 'Start at the hearing and work backwards.'
Arrrgg...I should think before I write. I should have said that I could probably 'get away with' flying a plane 5 to 10 pounds over gross. There's nothing safe about it.
This topic could head in many different directions with a thread for each, but:

From day #1, a student should have a POH and be taught how to read and interpret charts for their particular aircraft for EACH flight landing and takeoff - especially. People have mentioned not wanting to "risk" their licenses, but no one has mentioned their life. Hmmm....

Sure, flying in flat states near sea level, you can get away with a lot. Try some of these things at high altitude airports, in hot weather OR at altitude with icing and you'll learn a lot - that is if you live.

I've seen aircraft owners who appear to just get lazy about being competent on preflight planning. Stuffing things into their cabin and cargo areas and topping off the tanks.

There will always be more NTSB reports, but I EXPLAIN to my students WHY to do things in addition to explaining HOW.

This is important.

Fly Safe.
Well for me it really depends on the airport, if I'm flying out of an airport such as Orlando Exec or Daytona where I will be spending alot of time on the ground, I always put about half an hour of extra fuel in the tanks, if I'm flying out of some of the smaller grass strips, or pretty much anything that isn't to busy I try not to go over gross at all.

With that being said I've seen planes loaded with about 10-20 lbs over gross with mimimal consequences on preformance, that just an observation I never suggest that anyone every over gross a plane.
Sadly she was only 7, and she was a pawn in a game of publicity played by her parents and instructor. But back to the subject at hand, yes the plane was overloaded. Here is a link to the story from the local paper.

Jessica Dubroff story

and another link to a series of stories, looking at the bigger picture of the tragedy

Dubroff series

Here's another overload accident which killed a respected gentleman, his wife and his pilot in Georgia because they "had to" get some floor tile and a load of fruit to her summer home in Maine. Tragic and useless loss of life ensued.

Over gross

For every over gross accident there are probably hundreds of overloaded planes that get away with it, but is that a gamble you want to take?
A1 - didn't mean to imply that I didn't care about the safety of the flight or myself, however when it comes to just 5 pounds over gross on a cool day here in Texas, I'm more worried about the implications of getting caught.
Just remember that anytime you fly outside the POH, you are a test pilot. Test pilots get paid some bucks to figure these things, let em.

There was an interesting article last year in Flying about a Caravan hauling lions and they stated in the print that they were something like 1000 lbs over gross.

Apparently bush Pilots in Africa don't care too much about a ramp check from the FAA and if they have enough ball$ to haul live lions without cages then they probably have enough ball$ to fly overweight. Wonder what there insurance cost???

Personally, I don't fly outside the POH- ever.

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