Piper PA-28R-200 Cherokee Arrow, G-AYAC
The pilot reported that he completed an external check of the aircraft while it was in its hangar at Knettishal Airfield, about 20 nm south-west of Norwich. He then pulled the aircraft out of the hangar using a tow bar attached to the nosewheel. The pilot subsequently boarded the aircraft having inadvertently left the tow bar still attached. The takeoff run appeared normal until rotation, at which point the pilot heard a loud bang and felt a kick through the rudder pedals. The pilot raised the landing gear and retracted the flaps but the landing gear UNSAFE warning light remained illuminated. The pilot discovered that the nose landing gear was inoperative and initiated a diversion to Old Buckenham Airfield, where a visual inspection confirmed that the nose landing gear was not visible. The aircraft landed on Runway 02 on its main landing gear with the nose leg not lowered, causing damage to the propeller and engine cowling. Emergency services were on hand and the pilot, who was uninjured, vacated the aircraft through the cockpit door. The tow bar was still attached to the aircraft.