ATL05LA023
ATL05LA023

On November 14, 2004, about 1200 central standard time, a Bellanca 17-31ATC, N4088B, registered to and operated by Clinic Air Aviation, Inc., veered off the runway and collided with a parked airplane at Franklin County Airport, Sewanee, Tennessee. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 with no flight plan filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The private pilot and the passenger reported no injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight departed John C. Tune Airport, Nashville, Tennessee, about 1120 on November 14, 2004.

The pilot was landing the airplane on runway 6, and he stated the wind was from 090 to 100 degrees and about 12 knots. The pilot stated the approach and touchdown on the main wheels was "perfect, well planned, well controlled," but when the nosewheel touched down, the airplane veered "violently to the left." The pilot's attempts to gain control of the airplane with brake and rudder inputs were unsuccessful, and it veered off the runway toward a row of parked airplanes. The pilot applied the brakes, but the airplane slid on the grass. He stated that, "since I would not have stopped before colliding with the parked [air]planes, I applied full throttle and regained some control." The pilot stated his airplane missed one of the parked airplanes, but its left wingtip struck and separated the vertical stabilizer of a parked Cessna 177. The pilot stated he pulled the throttle to idle and applied the brakes, and the airplane came to a stop in a rough field. He stated he believed the nose landing gear malfunctioned.

Examination of the runway revealed a single, heavy black skid mark extended from the runway 6 centerline off the left side of the runway and continued as a gouge through the grass and past the parked airplane that was struck. The parked airplane was located about 1,200 feet from the approach end of runway 6. Examination of the accident airplane revealed the outboard section of the left wing was separated, the nose landing gear lower drag strut assembly was damaged, and the rod end spring assembly was separated into pieces.

The nose landing gear assembly was disassembled and examined after the accident by an airframe and powerplant mechanic. The mechanic stated that, "the overcenter spring on the drag strut may have broken on landing. This let the nosewheel retract about 8 to 12 inches, making the nose[wheel] steering inoperative." The damaged lower drag strut assembly and the two separated pieces of the rod end spring assembly were submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board, Materials Laboratory, Washington, D.C., for metallurgical examination. Examination of the fracture surfaces and the deformation damage revealed no evidence of corrosion or fatigue.

According to published airport data, the airport is subject to "sporadic crosswinds and turbulence." The pilot noted in his written statement, "the pilot landing before me had trouble with gusting wind and went around three times. He was in a high-wing Cessna. Is it possible that a significant gust hit me between touching down the mains and touching down the nosewheel? It is possible but I did not perceive a gust at that moment. It is, nonetheless, possible."

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