The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.
Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona
Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms
Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 24, 2015 in Prescott, AZ
Aircraft: LUSCOMBE 8A, registration: N25100
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.
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 October 24, 2015, about 1510 mountain standard time, a Luscombe 8A, N25100, experienced a loss of directional control during the landing roll, and ground looped at the Ernest A. Love Field Airport, Prescott, Arizona. The pilot, who owned the airplane, was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The certified flight instructor and his passenger were not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The personal cross-country flight departed from Gallup Municipal Airport, Gallup, New Mexico, about 1245 with a planned destination of Prescott. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company flight plan had been filed.
In a written report, the pilot stated that as he entered the vicinity of the destination airport, he maneuvered the airplane for a straight-in approach to runway 21L. The approach was slightly higher than his normal glide slope, and the pilot configured the airplane into a left slip in an effort to lose altitude. After becoming established, he maintained a left crab angle to compensate for an approximate 7 kt left crosswind. He configured the airplane for a three-point landing and touched down on the centerline. The airplane continued the landing roll until decelerating to about 15 mph at which point it began to veer to the left. The pilot input full rudder control to try to counteract the veer, but despite his attempts, the airplane ground looped.
During the accident sequence, the airplane incurred substantial damage to the wing. The pilot opined that the loss of control was precipitated by a tail wheel malfunction. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot purchased the airplane on the day of the accident; he reported having amassed about 200 hours of flight time in the same make and model.
The Luscombe 8A was equipped with a Scott 3-24B tailwheel (now Scott 2000), with a steerable six-inch rubber tire with full-swivel capability. The rudder control horns were connected via chains to the assembly, which uses spring pressure to hold a set of steering arms into machined flats on the wheel fork. As the wheel pivots to its travel limit, it comes into contact with a stop on the fork bracket, which releases the assembly, allowing the wheel to castor freely. According to the Scott 3-24B Handbook, "The tail wheel assemblies provide directional control throughout full rudder travel of the aircraft while the tailwheel is in contact with the ground. The assemblies will automatically full-swivel only well after the maximum point of air rudder control is reached in either direction…The tailwheel steering and release mechanism is so designed that 65-degrees of tailwheel turn (or travel) is provided either right or left from neutral steering position before the mechanism begins to release."
The airplane came to rest on the edge of the runway with the right landing gear collapsed and folded under the fuselage. The tailwheel steering chains remained affixed to their respective rudder horns as well as their respective steering arms mounted on the tailwheel body. However, the tailwheel had rotated over 180-degrees and was canted to the left leaving the chains crossed over one another. Additionally, the steering arms appeared bent upwards. A complete report with accompanying photographs are attached to the public docket for this accident.
An FAA certified airframe and powerplant mechanic examined the tailwheel. He stated the examination revealed that the tailwheel was turned around 180-degrees from its normal configuration. The right steering arm was bent upwards, and he observed that it was able to clear over the stop, allowing the steering head to continue to the reversed position, rather than unlock to caster freely. Under this condition, the tailwheel direction of movement would be opposite that commanded by the pilot, rather than free-castering as designed. He additionally noted that the leaf spring assembly was loose, allowing a possible shudder to develop. Following the examination, he repaired the assembly, and the steering arms were reconfigured to their correct straight position, enabling them to contact the stops and release the wheel to freely caster with the steering chains remaining on their respective side.