On July 15, 2001, about 1700 eastern daylight time, a Boeing A75L300 Stearman, N2313, was substantially damaged when it nosed over during the takeoff roll from runway 27 at the Marlboro Airport (2N8), Matawan, New Jersey. The certificated airline transport pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight that originated at 2N8 and conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
During a telephone interview, one witness said his attention was drawn to the accident airplane when the engine started. He said he watched the airplane taxi from in front of its hangar to the runway, and then through the entire takeoff roll and accident sequence. According to the witness:
"[The pilot] pushed it out and started it in front of his hangar, then taxied it about 500 feet to runway 27. During the takeoff roll, the tail wheel came up sooner than usual. It looked normal when the tail came up, but it continued to roll forward in the pitch axis until the prop struck the ground. In one continuous motion, the nose rotated forward and the prop started to strike the runway. The airplane continued about 250 feet and nosed straight over onto the grass - straight over onto its backside."
During a telephone interview, a second witness said he directed his attention to the accident airplane when he heard the engine noise increase at the beginning of the takeoff roll. He said:
"I saw him go on his takeoff roll. He brought the tail wheel up and the next thing I know, I saw sparks coming from the propeller hitting the runway."
The witness stated that he was familiar with the accident airplane and that he had watched the airplane takeoff several times in the past. He was asked if the takeoff roll, and the raising of the tail wheel, were consistent with takeoffs he had witnessed previously. The witness said:
"I would say so, yeah. I know when the tail wheel normally goes up and I would say, yeah, that's about where it comes up. When the tail came up, the horizontal stabilizer appeared to be in the neutral position. He appeared to be within the normal envelope for takeoff, but the airplane continued to pitch forward. The threshold on the approach end of runway 27 is displaced 440 feet, and the prop strikes on the runway began just before the threshold bar."
In a written statement, the pilot said:
"Started take-off roll and the right brake appeared to grab. Aircraft began to veer slightly right. Aircraft tail came off the ground in a very high attitude. Prop struck runway followed by a nose over ground loop. There were no injuries to the pilot who was flying alone."
During a telephone interview, the pilot said he had been at the airport for most of the day, and that he had provided airplane rides to his family. He said the airplane performed "great" with no anomalies noted. According to the pilot:
"During the takeoff roll, one of the brakes stuck -the right brake stuck - the prop hit the runway and it had a nose-over. It went slightly right, about 10 to 15 degrees right of centerline, and pitched over onto its nose. I should have aborted the takeoff, but I tried to get the airplane in the air, and that was the biggest mistake."
The pilot was asked about his experience and familiarity with the Stearman. He explained that the airplane belonged to his father, and that he had accrued approximately 250 hours of flight experience in the airplane during the previous 24 years. The pilot was asked about the brakes on the airplane, and their use during taxi and takeoff. He said:
"The Stearman's brakes are notorious for binding. In a Stearman, you should not be using brakes for takeoff or landing until you are very nearly at a complete stop. I'm not saying I didn't tap one on the takeoff roll. I'm not 100 percent sure. I might have tapped one, but which one or how much, I'm not sure."
The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane multi-engine land and instrument airplane. He held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane.
The pilot's most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first class medical certificate was issued May 9, 2001. He reported 14,500 hours of total flight experience. The pilot stated he had flown the accident airplane about 5 hours in the 90 days prior to the accident.
The pilot said he did not obtain a weather briefing on the day of the accident. According to the pilot:
"The winds were squirrelly this day. They were from the northwest about 10 to 15 knots all day. My father was also there that day and said that when I took off there was a 'fluky, strong, different kind of wind'."
The weather reported at Allaire Airport, 12 miles south of Marlboro Airport included a few clouds at 4,100 feet with the winds from 080 degrees at 4 knots. The weather at Newark International Airport, 18 miles north of Marlboro Airport was scattered clouds at 7,000 feet with winds from 310 degrees at 15 knots gusting to 19 knots. The weather at Trenton, New Jersey, 25 miles west of Marlboro Airport, was overcast skies at 11,000 feet with winds from 340 degrees at 6 knots.
The airplane was a 1943 Boeing A75L300 Stearman. The airplane had accrued 3,531 aircraft hours. According to the owner, the airplane's most recent annual inspection was performed on June 9, 2001, at 3,511 aircraft hours.
Two FAA inspectors examined the airplane at the Marlboro Airport on August 2, 2001. According to a written statement by one of the inspectors:
"The right brake was binding while the left brake was free. The aircraft had car drum brakes installed. The right wheel hub was warped on the inside, and was wearing down the shoes unevenly. The right side also had grease on the brake shoes. An annual [inspection] was done 13 hours and 6 days prior to the accident."
During a telephone interview, the inspector said that examination of the airplane's maintenance records revealed that the owner performed the annual inspection, and he signed the inspection write-up in the logbook.