On September 7, 1994, about 0900 hours mountain daylight time, N5387H, a Cessna A185F, operated by Karlee Leasing, Inc., Conrad, Montana, collided with rough terrain during takeoff from Conrad and was substantially damaged. The certified flight instructor (CFI) and private pilot were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed. The local instructional flight was conducted under 14 CFR 91.

According to the CFI, the purpose of the flight was so the private pilot could receive his third instructional flight in a tail wheel airplane. During the takeoff roll, the student "over corrected" for a drift to the left and the airplane began to head toward the right side of the runway. When the CFI attempted to take control of the airplane and correct the right drift, he "was unable to apply rudder pressure." The airplane continued to roll off the runway and into rough terrain. The left main landing gear collapsed and the left wing contacted the ground.

According to an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector from Helena, Montana, the right seat rudder pedals were found in the stowed position. The inspector stated that the CFI could not control the rudder during the takeoff because the rudder pedals had been stowed on the previous flight.

The CFI stated that prior to the flight, a "preflight inspection was performed in accordance with the Operator's Manual," and he "rocked" the rudder pedals "back and forth." He did not perform a complete flight control functional check prior to the takeoff.

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