Aircraft: Cessna 180. Injuries: None. Location: Norfolk, Va. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: According to the pilot, as he started to taxi onto the runway he noticed that the airplane was difficult to turn. He thought that the tailwheel had not locked into position, so he lined up on the center line of the runway and pulled forward to give the tailwheel time to lock into position.
He then initiated the takeoff roll and lifted the tail as the airspeed increased. The airplane pulled to the left. The pilot applied right rudder, but it was not enough to keep the left main landing gear from going off the left side of the runway.
The pilot immediately applied the brakes and reduced power to abort the takeoff, however, the airplane ground looped.
A post-accident examination of the brake system revealed no anomalies; however, the brakes could not be tested because the hydraulic system was breached. A nut was found separated from a right main landing gear attach bolt after the accident, but the investigation was unable to determine if the separated nut contributed to the airplane veering to the left during takeoff.
Probable cause: The pilot’s inability to maintain directional control during takeoff for undetermined reasons. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s delayed decision to abort the takeoff.
NTSB Identification: ERA12LA016
This October 2011 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.