LAX05LA245
LAX05LA245

On July 25, 2005, at 1850 Pacific daylight time, a conventional landing gear equipped Bellanca 8GCBC, N87008, nosed over on landing at a private grass/dirt strip near Oroville, California. The pilot/owner operated the airplane as a local area personal flight under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The private pilot, the sole occupant, sustained a minor injury. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight departed the private strip about 1830.

According to the pilot, he had been out practicing landings, and the accident landing was to be his last of the day. The first three landings were completed with no discrepancies. On the fourth landing, the airplane touched down on the main landing gear in a tail low attitude; the tail started to rise, and the pilot thought that the main landing gear "appeared to make a slight 'bounce.'" He did a go-around and came back to land for the last time. On the accident landing, he did a 3-point landing. The landing was normal, power was at idle, and he noted his airspeed at 65 miles per hour. However, as soon as the airplane touched down, it felt as if the brakes were being "strongly applied." The tail started to rise, and he immediately pulled back on the stick to its full rearward position. He checked his foot position on the rudders, and removed them temporarily to see if that would help; however, the braking action continued with no airplane response to the full aft stick. The airplane rotated forward, the propeller contacted the ground, the spinner struck the ground, and the airplane went up on its nose and "slammed" over onto its back.

The pilot stated that after the accident he walked the runway and identified two sets of skid marks. The first set he surmised was from the fourth landing when he felt the airplane bounce. He noted a right main landing gear skid mark of 6 feet, and a left main landing gear skid mark of 12 feet from the point of touchdown. The pilot reported that the airplane touched down about 120 feet from the south end of the runway. The main landing gear left straight skid marks for about 150 feet from the touchdown point, until the airplane turned over. Two airframe and power plant mechanics came to look at the airplane the day after the accident. They noted that the parking brake was in the OFF position, and indicated that the skid marks were indicative of the brakes either partially or fully activated on touchdown until the airplane turned over. They theorized that the brake piston might have been stuck, possible foreign debris in the brakes, or a high ambient temperature causing internal pressure buildup, thus activating the brakes.

The pilot stated that his wife saw him land, turned her back because it appeared normal to her, and when she looked back the airplane was over on its back. She also indicated that there was black smoke coming from the wheels.

A neighbor, a farmer/mechanic, had observed the pilot taking off and landing, but did not see the accident landing. He received a phone call informing him that his neighbor's airplane was on its back. He went across the field to see if he could help the pilot. When he got to the airstrip, and while waiting for the pilot to return to the airplane, he tried to spin the main landing gear wheels. The neighbor indicated that they had "quite a bit of drag on them." About 25 minutes later when the pilot arrived back at the airplane, the neighbor told him about the "drag" on the wheels. The pilot rotated the wheels, and the right wheel had "quite a bit of drag," and the left one rotated more freely.

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