On August 7, 1998, at 1250 central daylight time, Cessna 170, N9968A, collided with the ground and collapsed the main landing gear, according to the student pilot, at the Pell City Airport in Pell City, Alabama. The instructional flight was operated by the student pilot under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with no flight plan filed. A review of weather data from the nearest weather reporting facility disclosed that visual weather conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The on site examination of the airplane revealed that the airplane had sustained substantial airframe damage. The student pilot was not injured. The flight departed Pell City, Alabama, at 1210.

The student pilot reported that he was completing his third supervised solo flight that consisted of several landings. On the last landing, the airplane touched down about 1000 feet from the approach end of the runway. The student pilot reported that after he made a three point touch down, the airplane bounced, and weather vaned into the crosswind. As the airplane touched down again the right main landing gear collapsed. According to an eyewitness, the airplane was still in the proper crab position when the right main gear failed. The eyewitness also stated that after the right main landing gear collapsed, the right wing hit the runway and "ground looped the aircraft" (see attached witness statement).

At the time of the accident, no mechanical problems with the airplane were reported by the student pilot.

Examination of the right landing gear box assembly failed to disclose structural deformation other than overload. The landing gear box assembly also exhibited lateral or side load deformation to the major structural sub-components.

According to the Fundamentals of Flight-FM 1-203, the crab method for crosswind correction must be maintained throughout the final approach. "Just prior to touchdown", the pilot, "must remove the crab and lines the airplane up with the runway. If the crab is not completely removed prior to touchdown, side loads will be imposed on the landing gear that may result in gear damage or loss of control"(see attached extract from FM 1-203).

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