On October 12, 2004, at 1827 eastern daylight time, an Aero Commander 100, N81DC, was substantially damaged during an attempted takeoff from Allegheny County Airport (AGC), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The certificated flight instructor and the certificated private pilot were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local instructional flight, conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to a written statement submitted by the flight instructor, he was conducting a "checkout" flight with the pilot, and this was to be her first flight in the airplane. The flight instructor and the pilot performed an "extensive" preflight for 45 minutes, and discussed the characteristics of the airplane.
During the takeoff roll, about 1,000 feet down runway 28, the airplane's airspeed reached 65 miles per hour (mph), the pilot increased the pitch angle of the airplane, and it lifted off. She applied right rudder, and the airplane continued down the center of the runway. She then decreased the pitch angle, and the airspeed increased to 70 mph. The pilot again increased the pitch angle, and the airplane began to climb.
About 10 feet above the runway, the airplane began a slow roll to the right. The pilot attempted to correct the roll with left aileron and left rudder. When the airplane reached about 20 degrees of bank, the pilot asked, "what is happening?" The flight instructor responded, "I have the airplane," and applied additional left aileron and rudder, while the airplane's bank angle continued to increase. The flight instructor decreased the airplane's pitch angle to maintain airspeed. The airplane descended, while the flight instructor held full left aileron and left rudder to return to level flight.
The airplane touched down about 50 yards to the right of the runway, heading about 310 degrees. After touchdown the flight instructor reduced engine power to idle and steered the airplane toward the runway, but the right wing strut struck an electric fence post, and the airplane spun around, into trees.
The flight instructor additionally stated that there were no helicopters in the area, and no large aircraft had used the runway for takeoff or landing.
According to a written statement submitted by the pilot, after takeoff, the airplane made "an immediate and unintentional sharp turn to the right." During a telephone interview, the pilot was asked about the maximum bank angle the airplane had reached. While she could not recall an exact degree, she relayed that it was not as steep as the bank angle normally used during a steep turn maneuver.
When asked, neither the flight instructor nor the pilot could explain how the airplane recovered from its banked state prior to touchdown.
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector examined the airplane. The inspector found that the aileron cables were intact, and control continuity was confirmed.
The weather reported at Allegheny County, at 1753, included winds from 350 degrees at 4 knots and an overcast ceiling at 3,300 feet.