SEA97LA218
SEA97LA218

On September 28, 1997, approximately 1100 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-18-150, N7153Z, registered to Brown Tie & Lumber Co. of McCall, Idaho, crashed during initial climbout after takeoff from a private airstrip at the Yellow Pine Bar Ranch near Dixie, Idaho, and was substantially damaged. The private pilot-in-command was seriously injured in the accident, and a passenger in the aircraft received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the 14 CFR 91 flight to Dixie, Idaho.

A copy of a local sheriff's report indicated that "The plane took off on a downhill runway [approximately 1,500 feet long], and reached an altitude of about 20 feet. For unknown reasons, it made a right turn and collided with several trees near the side of the runway. The plane came to rest in the trees there." Fuel was observed leaking from the aircraft after the accident. A resident of the ranch reported to the responding deputy that there was no wind at the time of the crash.

The passenger, who was riding in the aircraft's rear seat at the time of the accident, reported that it was a clear, calm day, and that prior to takeoff the pilot checked the controls. He stated that the takeoff appeared normal, but that after takeoff the plane started a slight right drift. The passenger stated that the drifting action put the aircraft into the trees.

The pilot, who remained in intensive care at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho, for an extended period of time following the crash, was contacted and interviewed by telephone at his residence in McCall, Idaho, on October 2, 1998. In the telephone interview, the pilot reported that on takeoff, the rudder jammed. The pilot stated that he tried to unjam it by moving the rudder pedals back and forth, but that the rudder remained jammed full right. He stated that by this point, he was airborne. The pilot stated that once in the air, he tried to get over the trees by pulling up, but that this put him in a slip, and he could not gain enough altitude to clear the trees. The pilot reported that both he and an FAA representative examined the airplane following the accident, and that neither of them were able to find any problems with the rudder control. The pilot stated that he believed his passenger may have moved a canvas briefcase to one side or the other of the seat behind the pilot, creating an obstruction of the rear rudder pedals.

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