On April 13, 2007, about 1047 eastern daylight time, an amateur-built Charles C. Gillis Pitts S2S, N4204S, registered to and operated by a private individual, nosed over during the landing roll at Tangerine Airport (FL97), Zellwood, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight that departed FL97 at 1038. The airplane was substantially damaged and the certificated commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot initially stated that the accident flight was his third flight that day in the airplane, and that after takeoff, he remained in the traffic pattern and performed a normal approach and landing on runway 9. During the landing roll, he applied the brakes harder than he thought usual which caused the airplane to nose over. He later reported that "After a smooth rollout started the nose pitched down and the airplane went on its back."
Two witnesses reported seeing a three-point landing during the accident landing sequence, which both described as either being "nice" or "perfect." One witness reported that after the 3-point landing, it appeared the trailing edge of the elevator moved down and the empennage raised. The witness thought the pilot was going to perform a go-around but the airplane then nosed over. He went to the scene where the pilot advised him, "I can't believe I did that." The other witness reported that after the 3-point landing, he noticed the empennage was in an elevated position, and noted propeller to runway contact.
The privately owned, private use-airport is equipped with a 2,600 foot long grass runway designated 9/27. The National Transportation Safety Board's review of photographs depicting the runway and resting location of the inverted airplane revealed multiple skid marks on the runway surface. A picture showing the area immediately forward of the resting point of the inverted airplane revealed parallel oriented skid marks nearly aligned with the resting position of both main landing gears. Multiple parallel slash marks associated with the 3-bladed propeller were noted between the skid marks associated with both main landing gears. The skid marks associated with both main landing gears end in the area where a gouge associated with propeller to runway contact was noted. The owner of the airstrip, who was also associated with a facility that had recently worked on the airplane reported that the total length of skids marks from both main landing gears measured 200 feet in length, and begin approximately 498 feet from the approach threshold of runway 9.
The pilot purchased the airplane in April 2005, and replaced the main landing gear in 2006; however, the maintenance records do not reflect the main landing gear replacement. The maintenance records indicate that the first flight since replacement of the main landing gear occurred on April 11, 2007; the flight duration was recorded to be .3 hour. The maintenance records also indicate that the airplane was operated on eight total flights since replacement of the main landing gear. Four of the eight flights were operated by the accident pilot. There was no report of a discrepancy associated with the main landing gear on any of the previous flights.
Personnel at the facility that replaced the main landing gear reported they were not provided installation instructions with the owner provided main landing gears. They cut 2 inches off the rods at the bottom, and 2 inches off the axle mount tubes with no modifications to the sockets which were welded into the engine mount. They also reported that a pilot hired by the owner to test fly the airplane flew it successfully on five separate flights during the preceding several days. The pilot reportedly advised the accident pilot/owner that the landing gear was fine and to be careful when on grass.