NTSB Identification: FTW97LA275.
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Accident occurred Sunday, July 20, 1997 in BROWNSVILLE, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/30/1998
Aircraft: EICHMAN AEROBAT III, registration: N17638
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot/builder/designer was attempting to fly the airplane on its maiden test flight. During the takeoff roll, the pilot lifted the airplane's nose wheel off the runway two or three times, then the airplane lifted off the runway and climbed to an altitude approximately one half of the airplane's wingspan. The airplane immediately returned to the runway in a porpoise like motion and lifted off a second time with a hard right roll. The airplane then impacted the runway in an inverted position. Postaccident examination revealed the rudder exhibited crushed areas at the bottom and top. The top crushed area matched dimensionally to the four-belt driven wheel which turned the airplane's propeller. A test pilot reported that during previous high speed taxi runs, conducted in August 1987, he had to apply 'stop-to-stop' elevator stick movements to maintain a steady pitch attitude. A review of the video tape of the taxi tests revealed that the elevator was moving in what appeared to be 'stop-to-stop' movements. The same elevator movements were observed in a video tape of the accident airplane during the attempted takeoff. The test pilot said he believed the airplane 'had some kind of pitch oscillation problem.'

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

inadequate design by the pilot/builder/designer. Related factors were: the porpoise that was encountered by the pilot during the takeoff, and the subsequent jammed rudder.

Full narrative available

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