On March 17, 2001, approximately 0845 central standard time, a Champion 7KCAB airplane, N9017L, registered to and operated by the pilot, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following an elevator flight control malfunction while maneuvering in the vicinity of Ragley, Louisiana. The commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The flight originated at 0830 from a private grass airstrip located in Ragley.

The pilot reported that he was flying locally, near his home looking at some fields and reforested pine trees. After about 15 minutes of flight, he was in a turn and descending slightly, when "the stick suddenly snapped back with no pressure on it." The nose immediately "ducked down" and the pilot "pulled" the trim back to raise the nose while leveling the wings. After leveling off, the pilot started back to his airstrip. On short final, he noticed that he did not have enough time and distance to achieve a steady descent with only trim tabs to control the pitch. After a "go-around", the pilot attempted to set up for a shallow descent approach.

At about 75 to 100 feet above the ground on final, the pilot felt "turbulence" and the airplane began descending quickly. The airplane then impacted the ground "pretty hard" breaking the left main landing gear, skidding about 40 feet, and coming to rest in an upright position. The fuselage sustained structural damage during the impact.

Family members of the pilot and an FAA inspector examined the airplane after the accident. The elevator control cable was found liberated from its "Nicopress" fitting.

The elevator cable had been replaced with a new cable by the pilot, under the supervision of a A&P mechanic on February 8, 2001. According to the pilot, the new elevator cable was fabricated for him by an aircraft maintenance facility. The airplane was given an annual inspection on March 6, 2001, by the same A&P mechanic who assisted with the elevator cable installation. The last time the airplane flew prior to the accident was on March 8, 2001, when the pilot flew the airplane for about 35 minutes with no anomalies. He stated that the airplane "performed great."

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