NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The commercial pilot reported that he made a normal approach and landing to an unimproved landing strip and that the left main landing gear (MLG) wheel assembly separated from the landing gear leg at the axle bolts during rollout. The gear leg then dug into the gravel landing surface, which resulted in a sudden left turn, ground loop, and subsequent substantial damage to the left wing, left aileron, and elevator. The pilot and the passenger stated that it did not feel as if the airplane hit anything during the landing rollout. The pilot also stated that the initiating event may have been a crosswind landing on a hard-surfaced runway with large tundra tires earlier in the week, during which he inadvertently “put a side load on the landing gear.”
Postaccident examination of the left MLG axle assembly and bolts revealed that the left axle had separated from the landing gear leg due to a rearward overload event. The initial separation was due to the shearing of the forward bolt threads by tensile forces on the bolts, which was followed by the bending deformation of the aft bolts, consistent with a fore-to-aft overload.