On June 9, 2002, at 1100 eastern daylight time, a North American T6G, N60690, was substantially damaged during a landing at Salem Airpark (38D), Salem, Ohio. The certificated private pilot/owner was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight that departed Orange County Airport (MGJ), Montgomery, New York. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

During a telephone interview, the pilot said the purpose of the flight was to travel Minneapolis, Minnesota, to visit his parents. The airplane was aloft for 2.8 hours on the first leg between Orange County and Salem, and the pilot landed at Salem to purchase fuel.

The pilot configured the airplane for landing on runway 28R. He was "dead on" his approach speed of 85 miles per hour throughout his approach, and touched down about 200 feet beyond the numbers on the approach end of the runway. The airplane continued about one-third of the distance down the runway, then veered sharply to the right, into the grass.

The airplane continued across the grass apron, and struck an elevated, perpendicular taxiway. The left landing gear collapsed, and the left wing and nose struck the ground. The airplane came to rest at the intersection of the perpendicular and parallel taxiways. According to the pilot, it had been a textbook flight and a textbook landing. He made a "wheel landing," got on the brakes, and the airplane veered right.

The pilot described a wheel landing as one where the main landing gear touched first, and the airplane continued down the runway on the main landing gear only. Once the main gear was on the ground, the airplane's speed would be dissipated, and the tail wheel would settle to the ground. With the tailwheel on the ground, the brakes would be applied, and the rollout completed.

The pilot also noted that the brakes were operational, and that the airplane had no history of braking problems since he'd owned it. The brakes were working, and there were skid marks until the spot where the airplane stopped.

After the accident, the airplane was lifted and the right wheel was unlocked and rotated freely. The pilot felt that he had made a ground loop, but did not know what started the airplane on its turn to the right.

A pilot-rated witness said his attention was drawn to the accident airplane because he also owned a T6, and the paint scheme on his airplane was identical to that on the accident airplane. When asked to describe the accident, he said that it was a typical ground loop to the right; an absolute typical ground loop. He said that what the pilot tried to do was a wheel landing, but he put a little power in just as he touched down, so there was no weight on the gear. Then, once the airplane went onto the grass, "there wasn't any saving it". He mentioned that the exact same thing happened to him, and added that runway 28 was only 50 feet wide, so it would be a challenge at any time, especially during a wheel landing. His practice was to make a full-stall landing.

The witness also noted that at the time of the accident, the winds were "calm, or straight down the runway." The approach was "perfect" and everything looked good right up until the pilot added power, when it appeared he was caught between a wheel landing, and a full-stall (three-point) landing. The witness believed that a three-point landing would have been successful.

The witness further stated that he had about 8,000 hours of flight experience, learned to fly in tail-wheeled airplanes, and had about 180 hours of experience in the T6. He noted that the airplane had a reputation for ground loops within the owners' community, and that he had witnessed two T6 ground-loop events on the same day at a fly-in.

The airplane was a 1942 North American T6G. The most recent annual inspection was completed June 30, 2001, and the airplane had accrued 62 hours since that date.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration third class medical certificate was issued October 21, 1999.

The pilot reported 485 hours of flight experience, 52 hours of which were in the T6. He said he'd flown the airplane 21 hours in the 90 days prior to the accident, and 9.5 hours in the 30 days prior to the accident.

The weather reported at Akron, Ohio, 18 miles north of Salem Airpark, included clear skies with winds from 240 degrees at 9 knots.

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