On July 1, 2002, about 1200 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-16, N5921H, was substantially damaged while landing at Smith Mountain Lake Airport (W91), Moneta, Virginia. The certificated private pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight, which originated at Culpeper Regional Airport (CJR), Culpeper, Virginia. No flight plan had been filed for the flight that was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot stated:

"...Approach to Smith Mountain Lake was normal. On roll-out aircraft started left hand turn and exited hard surface. Regained control, [airplane] pointed about 60 degrees from centerline. Started turn back to runway when right wheel struck a mount of dirt about 16 inches high. Aircraft went over onto it back. Found right hand link from tailwheel to rudder horn missing."

In a follow-up telephone interview, the pilot described the left turn as abrupt, with no indication of a problem prior to the turn.

According to an inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), examination of the airplane revealed that the clip which held the tail wheel spring to the tail wheel on the right side of the tail wheel assembly, was missing, and the spring was disconnected. A search of the runway failed to find the clip. The FAA inspector also reported that the vertical stabilizer and rudder were bent. The right wing was bent at the fuselage attach point, and the right wing strut was bent.

Runway 05 was 3,050 feet long, 50 feet wide, and had an asphalt surface.

The closest recorded weather was Roanoke Regional/Woodrum Field Airport (ROA), Roanoke, Virginia, located 23 nautical miles northwest of the accident site. The reported winds at 1154, were variable at 3 knots.

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