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Starting at approximately 2045:09 and over the next eight seconds at about 2.5 second intervals, the aural tone and voice warnings of the supplemental stall recognition system (SSRS) activated. From 2044:01, just prior to takeoff clearance, to 2045:05, when the sounds of the stick shaker commenced, the CVR did not record any sounds of the takeoff warning system (TOWS). Activation of the TOWS during this portion of the takeoff sequence would indicate that the airplane was not properly configured for takeoff.
According to the NTSB report, witnesses indicated that Flight 255's takeoff roll was longer than that normally made by similar airplanes. Witnesses stated that Flight 255 began its rotation about 1,200 to 1,500 feet from the departure end of the runway, rotated to a higher pitch angle than other DC-9s, and that the tail came close to striking the runway.
After Flight 255 became airborne it began rolling left and right. Witnesses estimated that the bank angles during the rolls varied from 15° to 90°. Some witnesses stated that the wings leveled briefly and then banked to the left just before the left wing collided with a light pole in a rental car lot. The collision sheared off a 17-foot section of the outboard left wing.
After impacting the light pole, Flight 255 continued to roll to the left, continued across the rental car lot, struck a light pole in a second rental car lot, and struck the side wall of the roof of the rental car facility in the second rental car lot. Witnesses stated that the airplane was in a 90° left-wing-down attitude when it struck the roof, and that it continued rolling and was still rolling to the left when the airplane impacted the ground on a road outside the airport boundary.
The airplane continued to slide across the road, struck a railroad embankment, and disintegrated as it slid along the ground. Fires erupted in the airplane components scattered along the wreckage path. Three occupied vehicles on the road and numerous vacant vehicles in the auto rental parking lot along the airplane's path were destroyed by impact forces and/or fire. All 6 crewmembers and 148 passengers were killed; 1 passenger, a 4-year-old child, was seriously injured. On the ground, two persons were killed, one person was seriously injured, and four persons suffered minor injuries.