NTSB Identification: LAX06LA298.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, September 20, 2006 in Auburn, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/2008
Aircraft: Mooney M20C, registration: N5577Q
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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

Seconds after taking off, the pilot experienced a total loss of pitch control 30 to 50 feet above ground level. The airplane pitched uncontrollably upward, and the pilot aborted the climb. During the forced landing, the airplane impacted hard on the remaining available runway. An examination of the airplane's elevator control system revealed its push-pull control rod was broken in the empennage, with the fracture features indicative of fatigue. The control rod's adjacent end bearing was found seized; it would not pivot/rotate at its attachment location in the bell crank assembly. The bearing was corroded and devoid of lubrication. When the bearing seized, the attached control rod was bent and flexed repeatedly until failing in fatigue. In 1973 the FAA issued Airworthiness Directive number 73-21-01, which required recurring lubrication of all flight control systems at yearly intervals and 100 hours time in service to prevent corrosion in the flight control systems that might result in binding or seizure of the joints and loss of flight control. The accident airplane was manufactured in 1965, and its total time was 5,638 hours. Its last annual inspection had been performed 8 1/2 months and about 148 hours prior to the accident. Maintenance records indicated that the airplane had been operated 48 hours beyond the 100-hour limit without evidence of the requisite lubrication.

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

the fatigue failure of the elevator's control rod due to inadequate lubrication. Contributing factors were the inadequate maintenance and the owner-pilot's failure to comply with an airworthiness directive.

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