ATL95LA071
ATL95LA071

On March 24, 1995, about 1405 central standard time, an Aeronca 7AC, N83796, collided with the water during an uncontrolled descent near Dauphin Island, Alabama. The airplane was operated under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91, and visual flight rules. A flight plan was not filed for the local, personal flight. The private pilot and his pilot-rated passenger were seriously injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. Origination of the flight was the Roy E. Ray Airfield at Bayou La Batre, Alabama, about 1335, the same day.

According to witnesses, the airplane was flying about ten feet above the water, and about 150 yards to sea, near Dauphin Island, Alabama. The airplane then climbed abruptly, the engine noise stopped; it nosed over and impacted the water, nearly straight down.

According to the pilot, the airplane was approximately 500 feet above the ocean when he initiated a shallow, ascending left-hand turn, which he described as a "crop-duster turn". The pilot stated that too much left rudder was applied, and the airplane stalled and became inverted. The pilot reduced power and pulled back on the stick. The nose dropped to a near-vertical position and the airplane impacted the water. The pilot stated that he did not believe there to be a malfunction of the controls, nor any other problem with the aircraft.

The airplane was left in approximately ten feet of salt-water for a period of 24 hours. Upon recovery of the airplane, an investigation revealed a separated right aileron push-pull rod assembly. The metallurgist report attributed the cause of the fracture to be a result of reverse bending fatigue. The examination revealed the level of applied stress was high, allowing the rod to separate with relatively few fatigue cycles.

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