NTSB Identification: MIA02LA055.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, January 22, 2002 in Milton, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/09/2002
Aircraft: Bellanca 7KCAB, registration: N41686
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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 stated that after takeoff the flight returned after flying uneventfully for about 1/2 hour with the intention of performing touch-and-go landings. The windsock indicated that the wind was light and variable and the flight entered right traffic for runway 18. He noted that the first indication of a problem was evident upon rolling out on final approach; the airplane was drifting to the right. He rechecked the windsock and confirmed a light wind nearly aligned with the runway. He later stated that it felt like the airplane was skidding which was confirmed by the turn and bank indicator which was indicating the ball being fully deflected to the left even though no right rudder pedal input was applied by him. At that point he changed from doing touch-and-go landings to a full stop landing and performed a go-around and reentered the traffic pattern for runway 18. He performed a second go-around due to the approach being, "similarly uncomfortable" and again reentered the traffic pattern for runway 18. He reported that during the third approach he had full left rudder pedal input and nearly full left aileron inputs applied and was, "...able to keep wings level and fly fairly straight down the runway." He also reported that left rudder pedal input did not appear to have any effect. He performed a wheel landing momentarily then after the tail wheel contacted the runway, the airplane "immediately" swerved violently to the right and departed the runway into the grass. The airplane ground looped and came to rest with the empennage elevated. Postaccident examination of the rudder flight control system revealed the left rudder cable was off the pulley and "light hand pull on cable allows lateral deflection of one to two inches." The rudder control surface and the tailwheel were free to move, no binding was noted in the rudder flight control system. Both rudder return springs were not failed and there was no failure of either rudder flight control cable.
Review of the maintenance records of the airplane revealed that the airplane was inspected last in accordance with an annual inspection that was signed off on November 24, 2001. The airplane had accumulated approximately 22 hours since the inspection at the time of the accident. Further review of the maintenance records revealed an entry dated May 17,1995, indicating that the airplane was restored between December 1991, and May 1995. There was no record of work performed to the rudder flight control system in the last 5 years. Review of the airplane Service Manual revealed in part rudder cable tension is checked during a 100-Hour, 500-Hour, and 1,000-Hour inspections.

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

The inability of the pilot to maintain directional control of the airplane resulting in a ground loop. A finding in the investigation was a loose left rudder flight control cable.

Full narrative available

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