This October 2007 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.
Aircraft: Luscombe 8A. Location: Pensacola, Fla. Injuries: None. Aircraft damage: Minor.
What reportedly happened: During takeoff, the tailwheel airplane was about 2 feet in the air when it suddenly veered to the left. The pilot attempted to land on the remaining runway but could not keep the airplane from drifting left and hitting trees next to the runway.
The post-accident examination revealed the tailwheel leaf spring was separated from the tailwheel assembly, and the wheel was “jammed” against the rudder. The fracture surface appeared to be a fatigue fracture. The airplane’s most recent annual inspection was completed about nine months prior to the accident, with no anomalies noted. Checking the tailwheel spring is a requirement during an annual inspection. Without removing the outer clip, a pilot would not be able to check the spring during a preflight inspection.
Probable cause: The fatigue fracture of the tailwheel spring during takeoff.
For more information: NTSB.gov