NTSB Identification: SEA01LA104.
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Accident occurred Thursday, May 24, 2001 in Bremerton, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/19/2001
Aircraft: Curtis Lionheart, registration: N816JC
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The flight during which the accident took place was the maiden flight for the recently completed tailwheel-equipped experimental aircraft. After flying familiarization maneuvers for about 30 minutes, the pilot returned to the departure airfield, where he made two preplanned low approaches in order to establish the best indicated airspeed for his first landing. During his third approach, which was intended to terminate in a full-stop landing, the pilot was high on final. He therefore applied right rudder to slip the aircraft in order to lose altitude. Although the pilot eliminated most of the slip as he flared the aircraft for landing, as it floated down the runway, he inadvertently allowed the nose to begin rotating to the right. Then, just before the aircraft touched down, the nose of the aircraft rotated further to the right. The aircraft touched down in a significant right crab and immediately rocked up onto its left main gear. At the same time, it started increasing its rate of turn to the right. About 275 feet from where the aircraft touched down, the left main gear experienced an overload failure, followed immediately by the right. As the right main gear collapsed, it tore a portion of the right wing fuel tank wall loose, and a large volume of fuel was released into the wheel well. As the right wing settled to the asphalt surface, a massive fire broke out, which ultimately consumed the aircraft. It was later determined that the pilot had made only four landings in a tailwheel equipped aircraft in the last year, none of which were in the make and model he was flying at the time of the accident. It was further determined that the pilot attempted the landing in a tailwind of approximately five knots.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the pilot's failure to ensure the aircraft's longitudinal axis was aligned with the runway prior to touchdown, and his failure to maintain directional control during the landing roll. Factors include landing with a tailwind, and the pilot's lack of recent experience in the particular make and model aircraft. A factor in the severity of the post-accident fire was the kit manufacturer's inadequate design, which allowed the excessive side-load failure of a main gear leg to pull a portion of the wall from a wing fuel tank. Full narrative available
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