NTSB Identification: CEN11CA679
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, September 30, 2011 in Hays, KS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/06/2012
Aircraft: WALTMAN THEODORE J MOOSE, registration: N384JP
Injuries: 4 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During cruise flight in smooth air, with the autopilot engaged, the experimental category amateur-built airplane suddenly encountered a single occurrence of rudder flutter that lasted 2 to 3 seconds and then ceased. One passenger described the “frequency of vibration about 10 Hz” (cycles per second) and described the sound as “BRAAP.” The pilot disengaged the autopilot and continued to his original destination for an uneventful landing. A subsequent examination of the airplane found substantial damage to the stringers, frames, and empennage skin in the area just forward of the horizontal stabilizers. The pilot, who was also the builder of the airplane, had added an electrically actuated rudder trim tab several years earlier. Most of the weight of the rudder assembly was aft of the rudder hinges, and the builder had not installed rudder counterbalance weights forward of the hinges. In addition, he had recently installed struts on the bottom of the horizontal stabilizer. Airworthiness standards for certification of normal category airplanes require that they must be shown to be free from flutter. Airworthiness standards for certification of experimental category airplanes do not require that they meet those standards.

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

Rudder flutter due to the design changes to the airplane's horizontal stabilizer.

Full narrative available

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