Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Part(s) Separation from Aircraft: Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser, N4238M; accident occurred June 30, 2019 at Yakima Air Terminal / McAllister Field (KYKM), Washington

View of damaged left wing and left aileron.

View of tailwheel assembly with missing left steering spring.

View of left steering spring found on runway. 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Spokane, Washington

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Yakima, WA

Accident Number: GAA19CA376
Date & Time: 06/30/2019, 1240 PDT
Registration: N4238M
Aircraft: Piper PA 12
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Part(s) separation from AC
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The pilot of the tailwheel-equipped airplane reported that, during the landing roll, he felt a "tailwheel shimmy." He attempted to correct with elevator to no avail. The airplane veered right, and he attempted to add left brake, but the airplane quickly ground looped to the right. The left wing struck the runway. He then taxied the airplane to the ramp with difficulty.

The pilot reported that postaccident examination revealed that the left tailwheel steering spring was missing. He added that the spring was present and operating normally during preflight and taxi before takeoff. Crash fire rescue personnel found the left steering spring on the runway while conducting an examination for runway damage. In pictures provided by the pilot, the spring appeared undamaged.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The separation of the left steering spring from the tailwheel assembly during landing for reasons that could not be determined, which resulted in a ground loop.


Steering unit - Malfunction (Cause)
Directional control - Attain/maintain not possible (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Attempted remediation/recovery
Loss of control on ground
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)
Part(s) separation from AC (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 50, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Rear
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/15/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 03/17/2019
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 1297.2 hours (Total, all aircraft), 132.7 hours (Total, this make and model), 1210.4 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 79.5 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 3.1 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3.1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Pilot-Rated Passenger Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 67, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 11/06/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 
Flight Time: (Estimated) 750 hours (Total, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N4238M
Model/Series: PA 12 No Series
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1947
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 12-3134
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 3
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 03/07/2019, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1750 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2871.2 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-235-C1
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 115 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KYKM, 1066 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1953 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 285°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 140°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.05 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 7°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Yakima, WA (YKM)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Yakima, WA (YKM)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1140 PDT
Type of Airspace: Class D

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 1098 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 27
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 7604 ft / 150 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 46.566944, -120.537222 (est)

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