NYC04LA195
NYC04LA195

On August 23, 2004, about 1000 eastern daylight time, a Piper J3C-65, N7068H, was substantially damaged while landing at the Brokenstraw Airport (P15), Pittsfield, Pennsylvania. The certificated private pilot was not injured, and visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local personal flight. No flight plan was filed, and the flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, he preflighted the airplane, taxied out, and then departed runway 27 for left closed traffic. The takeoff, approach, and landing were normal until the tail wheel touched down. The airplane then turned left, the pilot added full right rudder and power, but the airplane continued to the left. As the airplane approached the left side of the runway, the engine responded with full power, the airplane departed the runway, contacted a small ditch, and became airborne. With the airplane airborne and heading for a hangar, the pilot attempted a left turn, but was unable to avoid the structure. The right wing contacted the hangar about 10 to 12 feet agl, and the airplane spun 180 degrees to the right before impacting the ground. When the airplane came to rest, the pilot secured the fuel selector, and exited without injury.

The pilot added that since the annual inspection, he had flown the airplane three or four times, and the only anomaly was the engine responded a "little slowly" when the throttle was advanced from the idle position.

According to a witness, the airplane landed and when the tail wheel touched down the airplane "immediately veered left. The witness added that he saw "full right rudder," but the airplane continued to the left and departed the runway.

According to a mechanic that examined the wreckage under the direction of a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, the left main axle nut carter pin was in place, but the nut was only finger tight, and the wheel was not seated. The left main break drum was deeply scored with numerous ridgelines, and the brake bladder was leaking fluid. The brake pad retaining clips were missing on both the right and left main wheel assemblies. The tailwheel assembly bolt was installed upside down, and tailwheel travel was restricted. The rudder cables were loose, and rudder movement was limited. The pilot's rudder pedals "were improperly installed" and were contacting the legs of the forward seat, which restricted pedal movement.

Two "old cracks" were identified near the wing root in the forward spar of the left wing, and another crack in the same spar was identified near the second rib. Corrosion was identified in all areas of the tail section not readily visible without the removal of the baggage compartment. Multiple old bird and mouse nests in the wing and tail section were identified, and in some areas, the nests were packed so tight, flight control movement was impeded.

According to 14 CFR Part 43 Appendix C - Scope and Detail of Items (as Applicable to the Particular Aircraft) To Be Included in Annual and 100 Hour Inspections:

"Each person performing an annual or 100 hour inspection shall inspect (where applicable) the following components of the landing gear group:
(1) All units - for poor condition and insecurity of attachment.
(2) Shock absorbing devices - for improper oleo fluid level.
(3) Linkages, trusses, and members - for undue or excessive wear fatigue, and distortion.
(4) Retracting and locking mechanism - for improper operation.
(5) Hydraulic lines - for leakage.
(6) Electrical system - for chafing and improper operation of switches.
(7) Wheels - for cracks, defects, and condition of bearings.
(8) Tires - for wear and cuts.
(9) Brakes - for improper adjustment.
(10) Floats and skis - for insecure attachment and obvious or apparent defects."

According the "Airplane Flying Handbook," "The pilot should make note of the general appearance of the airplane, looking for obvious discrepancies such as a landing gear out of alignment, structural distortion, skin damage, and dripping fuel or oil leaks.... Tires should be inspected for proper inflation, as well as cuts, bruises, wear, bulges, imbedded foreign object, and deterioration.... Brakes and brake systems should be checked for rust and corrosion, loose nuts/bolts, alignment, brake pad wear/cracks, signs of hydraulic fluid leakage, and hydraulic line security/abrasion."

The last annual inspection was performed about 6 flight hours prior to the accident, on June 28, 2004.

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