Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Travel Air C-4000, N9952: Accident occurred August 30, 2014 near Williams Gliderport (CN12), Colusa County, California

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration/Flight Standards District Office; Sacramento, California 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR14LA361
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 30, 2014 in Williams, CA
Aircraft: TRAVEL AIR C 4000, registration: N9952
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


On August 30, 2014, about 1221 Pacific daylight time, a Travel Air C-4000, N9952, collided with terrain during the takeoff initial climb from the Williams Gliderport, Williams, California. The owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot sustained serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings and fuselage. The local personal flight was departing. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

Witnesses stated that the airplane reached about 8 feet above ground level (agl), and suddenly went nose first into the ground.

An examination by a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator revealed a fractured and separated control tube for the elevator. The investigator observed a viscous liquid inside the tubing. The tubing was removed for further examination.


The tubing was examined by the NTSB Material's Laboratory, and specialists performing exams on the viscous liquid and the tubing itself wrote factual reports, which are in the public docket for this accident.

The viscous liquid inside the tubing had hardened into a glossy, gray-beige polymeric solid by the time it reached the laboratory. A sample of it was examined by a Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrometer. Spectral peaks corresponded to a nitrogen-hydrogen bond, a carbon-hydrogen stretching bond, a carbon-oxygen double bond (carbonyl), a nitrogen-hydrogen bending bond, and a carbon-hydrogen bending bond. The spectrum suggested that the material contained an amine and a carboxylic acid. A spectrum library search did not identify a match for a single material. A mixture analysis search found signatures for emulsifiers, surfactants, and amines. The combination of these materials are often found in corrosion inhibiting compounds.

The tubing fracture surfaces were heavily smeared, and the majority were covered with the same glossy, hard substance that coated the inside of the control tube. The areas of the fracture surfaces minimally covered by the hardened substance were minimally damaged, and had features consistent with overstress. The fracture occurred in a spiral along an approximately 45-degree angle, which was consistent with torsional overstress. A cross-section of the tube away from the fracture was examined. Corrosion was observed on the inner surfaces of the control tube, as well as significant thinning of the control tube wall thickness, which was 1/2 to 2/3 of the wall thickness of the least corroded sections.


The pilot did not submit the National Transportation Safety Board Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/ Incident Form 6120.1.

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