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Mon, Aug 13, 2012

NTSB Prelim: Second Takeoff Attempt Goes Bad In Luscombe

Pilot Aborted A Previous Attempt Due To Engine Problems

The decision to abort a takeoff should be one of the easiest things to do in all of aviation... i.e., the minute something seems wrong or improper, its time to stop the takeoff (if you can) and figure out the source of concern. Unfortunately; in the case of a recent fatal accident, the pilot did not take the time to go back to the hangar to see why an engine acted improperly and, instead, decided to try the takeoff a second time... with disastrous result.

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA491
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 01, 2012 in St. Petersburg, FL
Aircraft: SILVAIRE LUSCOMBE 8A, registration: N2761K
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On August 1, 2012, approximately 1400 eastern daylight time, a Luscombe 8A, N2761K (file photo shown below), was substantially damaged when it impacted the runway during takeoff from Albert Whitted Airport (SPG), St. Petersburg, Florida. The certificated private pilot/owner was fatally injured, and the certificated flight instructor sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which was originating at the time of the accident. The instructional flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Several witnesses observed the airplane initiate a takeoff from runway 25. Two witnesses stated that the airplane lifted off the runway and climbed to approximately 20 feet above the ground. The engine began to “sputter,” and the airplane landed on the runway before initiating a second takeoff. They reported that during the second takeoff, the airplane reached an altitude of approximately 50 feet, and that the engine continued to sputter. One witness described the airplane rocking from side to side, at a slow airspeed, prior to descending nose-first and impacting the runway.

The airplane came to rest inverted approximately 100 feet from the blast fence at the departure end of runway 25. The initial impact point was identified by a ground scar approximately one and a half feet in length, located in the grass about one foot from the right edge of the runway. About 16 feet past the ground scar, on a heading of approximately 187 degrees, a small crater was observed in the runway surface. Two abrasions, dimensionally consistent with the diameter and chord of the propeller, extended out from the crater. The airplane came to rest about 20 feet past the crater. The engine was displaced aft into the firewall and the cockpit area exhibited significant crush damage.

Examination of the airplane showed that flight control continuity was established from all flight controls to the cockpit area. The propeller remained attached to the engine, and exhibited scratching and gouging along its leading edge. One blade exhibited slight s-bending approximately four inches from its tip. The engine spark plugs were removed and exhibited normal wear. The crankshaft was rotated by hand, and continuity was confirmed from the propeller to the rear accessory gears and to the valve train. The carburetor remained attached to the engine, but was impact damaged. The carburetor float bowl was absent of fuel, water, and debris. The float was undamaged, and the fuel intake screen was clear.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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