On July 14, 2010, at 1230 eastern daylight time, an amateur built experimental Wogenstahl 281 MR, N5281R, collided with concrete posts and nosed over during an off airport precautionary landing following an in-flight structural failure. The pilot and passenger were not injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The flight departed from Middletown, Ohio, at 1030 with an intended destination of Bowling Green, Ohio.

The pilot reported that he heard what sounded like an explosion in the rear of the airplane during cruise flight at 3,000 feet. He stated the airplane then began to vibrate and it sounded as if something was banging on the airplane. The pilot reported he chose a street on which to make a precautionary landing and that the elevator was ineffective during the landing flare. The airplane touched down hard, bounced, and veered off the side of the road where it contacted two concrete posts prior to nosing over.

The pilot reported that the riveting had already been accomplished when he purchased the unfinished airplane from a previous owner. The post accident inspection by a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector and the pilot revealed that 26 of the Avex rivets on the aft bulkhead had failed/worked out allowing the several sections of the aft fuselage skin to pop up. The inspection also revealed that “smoking” was visible around some of the rivet holes indicating that the rivets were loose. The kit manufacturer does call for Avex rivets to be used. The inspector stated that the partial separation of the skin from the bulkhead allowed the empennage to flex which would have resulted in the lack of elevator control during the landing.

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