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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: GAA16CA229
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 07, 2016 in Pace, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/31/2016
Aircraft: WACO CLASSIC AIRCRAFT YMF, registration: N119SW
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to the pilot, he was taking off from a grass airstrip outlined by trees, in a tailwheel-equipped bi-plane. The pilot reported that he increased the airspeed and pushed forward on the stick in order to raise the tailwheel off of the ground, at which time the airplane began to veer left. The pilot recalled that he applied full right rudder and right aileron, and the airplane felt like it was "skipping down the runway" while continuing the left veer. The pilot reported that the airplane then swerved to the right, the nose pitched up, and the airplane "skipped", and became airborne at a low airspeed. The pilot recollected that he pulled the throttle back and the airplane banked left, and the left upper and lower wings impacted the ground. The airplane came to rest facing the opposite direction of takeoff, with substantial damage to the left wings and fuselage.

The pilot reported that he believe the left main landing gear brake locked up, initiating the accident sequence.

An airworthiness inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspected the wheel and brake assembly which had separated from the airplane as a result of the impact, and found that the left wheel rotated freely with no indication of binding. The brake assembly revealed no indications of seizure, and a function check indicated normal operation at the time of the inspection. The FAA Inspector also reported that there were no indications of ground scars on the grass strip in the area of the takeoff roll that indicated binding or seizure of the left brake.

Furthermore, a cell phone video of the takeoff, viewed by the NTSB investigator, showed the airplane during the takeoff roll with the tailwheel on the ground for the entire duration of the takeoff roll. The recording showed that as the airplane veered left, the airplane ascended with the nose canted approximately 45 degrees to the left of the runway centerline. The airplane remained airborne for seven seconds before it descended in a left bank, and impacted the ground.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot's failure to maintain directional control during the takeoff roll, and his excessive pitch attitude at low airspeed during initial climb, resulting in an aerodynamic stall and consequent ground impact.