IAD05LA074
IAD05LA074

On June 11, 2005, about 1024 central daylight time, a Waco GXE, N903H, was substantially damaged while landing at Barkley Regional Airport (PAH), Paducah, Kentucky. The certificated commercial pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which departed Fall Creek Field Airport (TN96), Lebanon, Tennessee, and was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, he had purchased the airplane on June 10, 2005. To help transition to the tail wheel equipped Waco, and to gain experience with the Continental W670 engine, he flew the previous owner's "Navy Stearman" for approximately 30 minutes, with the owner in the front seat. He performed general flight maneuvers including a stall, and several landings at Fall Creek Field Airport's turf runway. The next morning, he once again made a local flight, but this time in the accident airplane. This flight included normal flight maneuvers, slow flight, stalls, a wheel landing, to gain experience in judging the visibility from the cockpit and height above the runway while landing, and a normal three-point landing. He stated that he felt "relatively comfortable" in the airplane, and that it flew well even though the airplane was slightly "out of rig" laterally. It required a small amount of continuous left aileron input, but he stated that this did not seem to affect the airplane handling on landing.

On June 11, 2005, at 0850 the pilot departed Fall Creek Field Airport with one passenger for the first leg of a cross-country flight to the Wichita Kansas area. He had obtained a weather briefing from a Flight Service Station earlier that morning, which indicated that visual meteorological conditions existed through eastern Missouri, but that there were significant thunderstorms in eastern Kansas. Forecasts also predicted light surface winds for the first part of the trip.

Originally, the first planned stop was Cape Girardeau, Missouri, but as he approached Paducah, Kentucky, he decided to make a rest stop at PAH.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, the pilot executed a low power, steep approach to runway 14, a 3,999-foot long, 150-foot wide, asphalt runway. During the flare for landing, the airplane touched down "early." After touchdown, the airplane "skipped," became airborne, and touched down a second time. The airplane then swerved to the right, and began to ground loop. The left wing contacted the pavement, and the left main landing gear wheel assembly failed. The airplane then turned 360 degrees, and came to rest on the right side of the runway centerline.

During a post accident examination of the airplane, it was discovered that in addition to the left main landing gear assembly, the left lower wing rear spar and ribs had also been damaged along with the right landing gear limit cable and cabane wire attachments.

Examination of the landing gear revealed that the main landing gear wheels were "toed out" approximately 2-degrees. Additionally, the tailwheel steering springs that connected the rudder to the tailwheel were "small," such that significant rudder deflection was required to effect tailwheel steering.

Examination of the tailwheel revealed that it would release to "full swivel" at a steering angle less than that required for full rudder deflection, which would result in a loss of tail wheel steering.

The pilot stated that he believed the airplane could have been successfully controlled during the landing if differential braking was immediately used to correct a significant swerve, instead of making an initial attempt with "firm" rudder input. If he had discovered that the tailwheel would "release steering" during his initial evaluation of the airplane, he would have had another tailwheel installed before flying the airplane home.

A weather observation taken at PAH, about 9 minutes after the accident, recorded the winds as 140 degrees at 10 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, broken clouds at 8,000 feet, temperature 77 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 29.96 inches of mercury.

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