NTSB Identification: FTW02LA187.
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Accident occurred Sunday, June 23, 2002 in Mesquite, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/02/2004
Aircraft: Lidster Wittman Tailwind W-8, registration: N14VK
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 homebuilt airplane was destroyed following an in-flight separation of the left wing in level flight, and the subsequent uncontrolled flight into terrain. The outboard 2 feet of the left wing with the left wing spar was found approximately 300 yards from the main wreckage. The NTSB Metallurgist examination of the wing revealed fracture features indicating that the main spar failed in an overload event. The fracture on the left wing appeared to initiate at the root end, and the root fractures were created by compression loads, indicative of upward aerodynamic loading. No evidence of preexisting cracks or deteriorated wood was found and the spars were manufactured from the specified material. The comparison with the design revealed that the wings were 16 inches (2 ribs voids) short and the location and angle of the wing support strut had been adjusted to account for the shorter wing. The misalignment of the strut attachment fittings and the root attachment fittings on the spar suggest that the holes had been drilled before the wing was fitted for the aircraft. The location of the remaining root attachment hole suggest that the wing was built for a different aircraft and installed on the accident aircraft. The effect of the improper wing, wing overall length, improper attachment at the wing strut locations, and improper root configuration and attachments on the wing failures is unknown. However, since the fractures appear to have started at the root, the out-of-specification features associated with the root may have had the most effect. The airplane was built from 1995 to 1999. On December 2, 1999, the FAA Registration Certificate was issued to the builder/pilot. There were no builder or maintenance records available to the Safety Board, and the history of the left wing and spar could not be determined.

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

The in-flight separation of the outboard portion of the left wing due to the failure of the wing spar resulting from the builder's improper installation of a wing that did not meet the drawing specifications.

Full narrative available

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