On August 4, 2002, about 1930 eastern daylight time, an unregistered amateur built T-Bird II, was substantially damaged during a collision with a building, following a loss of control in cruise flight, near Berlin, Pennsylvania. The non-certificated pilot/owner and passenger were seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed North View Airport (78PA), Berlin, Pennsylvania. No flight plan was filed for the local personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot stated that he departed runway 32 at 78PA, with the intention of a short local flight. About 20 minutes after takeoff, while flying through some "turbulent air," the pilot experienced a loss of elevator control. The aircraft pitch oscillated as the pilot attempted to return to 78PA. However, the airplane eventually pitched to a steep nose down attitude, and struck the roof of a hangar.

The pilot had stored the wreckage outside for approximately 10 months prior to the Safety Board notification of the accident. Examination of the wreckage by the pilot and a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the two sides of the elevator were deflected in opposite directions. Further examination revealed that two 1/4-inch bolts were supposed to mate into their respective slugs, which secured the elevator assembly. However, both of the bolts were found sheared, and a piece from one of the bolts was not recovered. The fracture surfaces were corroded, consistent with prolonged exposure to the elements. The first bolt and respective slug, and the remaining piece of the second bolt and respective slug, were forwarded to the Safety Board Materials Laboratory for further examination.

According to the Metallurgist's factual report, there was substantial corrosion on the fractures and adjacent portions. All fractographic evidence suggested that significant bending preceded final fracture, consistent with overstress.

The pilot further stated that he did not notice the second fractured bolt with missing piece, until he had removed the fabric near the outer connection of the elevator to recover the first bolt. There were no holes in the fabric, and the pilot could not explain the missing bolt piece. He believed that the missing bolt had failed several years ago. The airplane was manufactured in 1996, and the pilot purchased it from a previous owner in 1999. At the time of purchase, the airplane had accumulated 16 hours of total flight time. The pilot installed a new engine, and had flown about 16 additional hours until the accident.

After the purchase, the pilot had the airplane refabricated. He thought it was possible that the people refabricating the airplane did not notice the missing bolt, and it dropped to the ground during the refabrication. The pilot surmised that flying 16 hours with one bolt missing increased the stress on the remaining bolt.

At 1954, the wind was reported as calm at an airport approximately 25 miles away from the accident site.

Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsis
Return to Query Page