LAX00LA338
LAX00LA338

On September 16, 2000, at 0845 hours Pacific daylight time, a Stevens Starduster II AS300, N27CG, ground looped, and struck the right wing on a downward sloping berm, after landing on runway 12 at the North Las Vegas Airport, North Las Vegas, Nevada. The airplane, owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91, sustained substantial damage. The certified flight instructor (CFI) and commercial pilot/owner were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the instructional flight that departed at 0730. A flight plan had not been filed.

In an interview with an investigator from the Safety Board, the pilot/owner stated he had purchased the airplane about a month prior to the accident, and was receiving conventional gear instruction that was to conclude with a checkout over the weekend. They had been conducting touch-and-go takeoffs and landings for about an hour prior to the accident. This was the last landing of the day and they had planned on a full stop landing. There were no discrepancies on the previous landings or the final landing. On the landing roll, the tail wheel started to "wobble," the airplane "snapped around," veered to the left off the runway, and ground looped. Prior to the accident there were no difficulties noted with the landing gear.

In the pilot's written statement to the Safety Board he reported that he had purchased the airplane in Hawthorne, California, and had hired a CFI to fly back to Las Vegas with him as he was unfamiliar with conventional geared airplanes. After his arrival in Las Vegas, he delivered the airplane to Ron's Aircraft Service, Inc. to inspect the airplane for airworthiness to include an engine compression test, an oil sample, and an oil change. The facility completed the inspection and returned the airplane to the pilot/owner, who believed the airplane to be "airworthy from the favorable results" of the inspection. He then hired the CFI that was with him at the time of the accident to provide conventional gear training and the eventual sign off for operation.

The pilot stated that the first flight with the CFI began with a "ground inspection, weight and balance review and calculations, and a thorough review of related flight procedures." During the first flight's taxi, they noted that the rear seat rudder pedals were hitting the front seat belt metal loop retainers on either side of the front seat. The pilot stated that he and the CFI cancelled the flight and returned to parking. He took the airplane back to Ron's Aircraft Service, Inc. to have them work on the seat belt brackets. The seat was removed and an inspection was completed, which included looking for loose objects, debris, and to check the cable condition inside the cockpit and tail section areas. No discrepancies were noted. After the maintenance inspection was completed, the pilot and CFI flew 6 times, for a total of 11 hours, without incident until the accident flight.

Prior to the accident flight, the pilot conducted a preflight inspection. This included moving the airplane forward and to the rear to check tire conditions. He stated that there was no apparent defects found with the tires. The pilot indicated that the flight had been about 1.3 hours in duration.

After the accident, the pilot reported that he and the CFI inspected the tail wheel steering assembly. They noted that the tail wheel steering springs were disconnected and "dangling" from the tail wheel assembly. He further stated that the right steering spring linkage had broken. The left steering spring had "dropped out of its connector."

In the written statements provided by the pilot and CFI, they each indicated that they were both on the flight controls at the time of the accident.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, who examined the airplane on-scene, clips attach to springs that connect the tail wheel assembly to the rudder control. The clip was broken on the right side (photo attached); this allowed the tail wheel to caster freely. The clip on the left side detached itself.

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