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On August 27, 2009, about 1400 eastern daylight time, a Luscombe 8A, N40VS, was substantially damaged when the right main landing gear collapsed during takeoff at Arcadia Municipal Airport (X06), Arcadia, Florida. The certificated private pilot and owner/passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local personal flight that was originating at the time and was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
Both the pilot and the owner provided written statements. According to the pilot, the left wing began to “raise” during the takeoff roll. He applied left aileron, leveled the airplane, and then “released the aileron for a normal takeoff at which time the plane continued to fall right.” The pilot reduced power, aborted the takeoff, and then the airplane departed the left side of the runway. Both occupants egressed the airplane and noted that the right main landing gear had collapsed. The owner’s written account of the event was consistent with the pilot’s.
In a subsequent interview with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector, the pilot mentioned that the airplane “may have bounced a few times” during the takeoff.
A review of FAA airman records revealed that the pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued December 10, 1998. The pilot reported about 6,000 total hours of flight experience, of which 16 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.
The pilot reported that the airplane was a recent purchase by the owner, and that his experience flying the airplane was accrued during delivery of the airplane from Wisconsin to Florida. He said he was operating the airplane in the "Light Sport" category.
The owner did not possess a pilot certificate, and neither did he have an FAA medical certificate.
According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1940 and had accrued 2,210 total aircraft hours. Its most recent annual inspection was completed April 1, 2009, at 2,191 total aircraft hours.
Weight and balance calculations were completed by the FAA inspector who used the occupant, baggage, and fuel weights volunteered by the pilot and owner. Calculations revealed that the airplane weighed approximately 1,315 pounds at takeoff. The maximum allowable gross weight for the airplane was 1,260 pounds.
At 1353, the weather reported at Charlotte County Airport (PGD), Punta Gorda, Florida, 19 miles southwest, included few clouds at 4,300 feet and winds from 120 degrees at 7 knots. The visibility was 10 miles. The temperature was 32 degrees Celsius (C) and the dew point was 22 degrees C.
The accident was not reported until examination of the airplane by a certificated airframe and powerplant mechanic revealed substantial damage to the airframe. Examination of the airplane by the FAA inspector revealed corrosion in the areas of the landing gear that had buckled or fractured. These areas were sectioned from the airplane’s landing gear and forwarded to the NTSB materials laboratory in Washington, DC, for further examination.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
On October 19, 2009, the sectioned pieces of the right main landing gear were examined in the NTSB materials laboratory. Examination revealed the component failed in overstress bending due to landing gear loads consistent with forward movement of the airplane. There were no indications of preexisting defects, and the corrosion observed did not affect the overall integrity because it was "shallow compared to the overall thickness of the [landing gear] tube."