SEA07LA049
SEA07LA049

On January 16, 2007, approximately 1620 mountain standard time, a tailwheel Cessna 150A, N7218X, sustained substantial damage following a loss of control and impact with terrain while landing at the Cottonwood Airport, Cottonwood, Arizona. The commercial pilot and his sole passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight, which was conducted in accordance with 14 CFR Part 91 flight. A flight plan was not filed. The flight originated from the Ernest A. Love Field Airport, Prescott, Arizona, about 1440.

In telephone interviews and in a statement provided to the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC), the pilot-rated flight instructor reported that during the flight he was occupying the right seat while the pilot-rated passenger occupied the left seat. The pilot stated that he had already done two touch-and-go landings followed by a full-stop [landing] and taxi back for takeoff; the fourth landing was to be a planned full-stop and taxi back to the ramp to shut down. The pilot further stated that while performing a wheel landing with a right crosswind condition the touchdown was normal, and on rollout after the tailwheel was on the runway he retracted the flaps to zero degrees. The pilot further stated that while trying to compensate for the crosswind he was holding "moderate" left rudder pressure and was increasing right aileron and aft elevator, but despite the corrections the airplane began to veer to the right. The pilot reported, "I tried to compensate and correct for this [veering to the right] by applying left rudder and brake. The airplane did not respond as expected to my control inputs. The aircraft veered off the right side of the runway onto the grass and came to rest in thick brush in a nose down attitude with the tailwheel four feet in the air after going four to five feet down a 30 to 45 degree slope off the runway plane." The pilot stated that his subsequent inspection of the airplane revealed that the right side of the tailwheel mounting bracket had come loose from the empennage and the rudder was stuck in a right deflection.

A flight instructor, who was conducting an instructional flight in a Cessna 172 and had just landed prior to the accident, submitted a statement to the IIC. The flight instructor reported that after doing some airwork he returned to the traffic pattern for two touch-and-go landings to Runway 32, during which three go-arounds were made due to gusty wind conditions; the winds were estimated to be from 15 to 25 knots and from different directions. The flight instructor stated that after landing and taxiing to parking he observed a fire truck and other personnel responding to the Cessna 150, which had come to rest in a ditch off the right side of Runway 32. The flight instructor reported, "...[I] then went to where the airplane was and didn't see anything wrong with the tailwheel; it was intact and secured to the airplane." The flight instructor further reported that he and other individuals physically moved the airplane backwards out of the ditch, with no damage to the tailwheel, and subsequently elevated and placed [the tailwheel] onto the back of the pickup [truck] for transport to the airport ramp area. The flight instructor stated that while the airplane was being towed he observed the truck go off the paved taxiway, then down and back up a ditch before returning to the pavement prior to reaching the tie down area. The flight instructor further stated that during this time he observed the "wings rocking" as it went down and up the ditch. The flight instructor said that he feels that this is when the tailwheel assembly became damaged; after the airplane was parked in the tie down area is when he noticed the damage to the tailwheel and its associated assembly. The instructor also stated that he heard the left seat student state, "I lost it and told the instructor he had it."

In a statement submitted to the IIC, a pilot-rated witness who was walking south on the taxiway, which borders Runway 32 on the west, reported that he was about 200 yards from the airplane watching it do a wheel landing. The witness stated that he observed a gust of wind push the tail to the left, followed by the right wing coming up with the airplane on its left wheel as it veered to the right and off the runway. The witness stated that he then ran across the runway and arrived at the accident site before the occupants had exited the airplane. The witness reported that he didn't see anything out of place relative to the condition of the tailwheel.

Another pilot-rated witness who responded to the accident site shortly after the event occurred, reported in a written statement to the IIC that he looked at the tailwheel and saw that both springs were in their proper position and still attached. The witness stated that he saw no other damage [to] the tailwheel or around the tailwheel area of the aft fuselage. The pilot concluded by saying, "The tailwheel was turned to about 90 degrees, but that appeared to be in the caster position."

In a written statement provided to the IIC, a certified airframe and powerplant mechanic with inspection authorization reported that he examined the tailwheel assembly shortly after the accident and determined that the right hand side plate broke as a result of the accident and was not the cause of the accident. The mechanic stated that the side plate was still connected to the aft of the fuselage and only came off during the process of removing the aircraft from the crash site.

In a telephone interview with the IIC, a Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness inspector, who examined the airplane after it had been recovered to the airport tie down area, reported that the damage to the tailwheel was a result of the accident and not the cause of the accident.

In a statement provided to the IIC, the owner of the aircraft reported that while speaking with the pilot shortly after the accident, the pilot stated, "...it just got away from me." The owner further reported that sometime after this conversation and after the aircraft had been recovered to the ramp/parking area, the pilot stated, "...there might have been something wrong with the tailwheel. You know, I've got a career to think about." The owner also revealed, "...[the pilot] came to my house to discuss what had happened. At that time he told me that he needed to be honest with me, and he informed me that he was showing his friend (passenger) how to fly the airplane. He did say that when the plane lost control, he (the pilot) had the controls."

The pilot reported that the winds were variable at 10 knots with gusts to 12 knots at the time of the accident.

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