WPR11CA358
WPR11CA358

The pilot reported that his approach to, and landing on, the private airstrip in his homebuilt, experimental, conventional gear airplane were normal. During rollout in the calm wind condition, the airplane began an uncommanded right turn. The pilot stated that he attempted to correct his loss of directional control by application of rudder and engine power. However, the tail wheel had unlocked and was evidently in a castoring mode. Despite his efforts to straighten the airplane’s path, the airplane veered off the runway. It rolled over brush and went into a ditch. During the impact sequence one propeller blade broke, and the left wingtip and a wing rib were broken. The pilot reported that he built and maintained the experimental airplane. He opined that the accident could have been prevented had the angle of the tail wheel assembly been correct. After years of use, the tail wheel spring-to-empennage attachment assembly flattened. The incorrect angle altered the tail wheel’s pivot point. This event, combined with the vibration induced during rollout on the gravel runway, allowed the tail wheel to unlock.

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