The pilot/owner purchased the Aeronca 7AC about a month before the accident and was flying near Taunton, Mass., with a pilot-rated passenger who owned a similar model airplane. A witness reported that the airplane accelerated and climbed normally to an altitude of about 50 to 100 feet above the ground. It then entered a slow right turn and began to descend until it hit the ground and immediately became engulfed in fire. Both the pilot and passenger were killed.
The post-accident examination revealed that a rudder gust lock was installed over the rudder and vertical stabilizer, which prevented movement of the rudder. The control lock was similar to a rudder gust lock that was observed installed on the passenger’s airplane.
While it could not be determined who was at the controls of the airplane during the accident flight, both pilots should have noted the installation of the rudder gust lock either during a preflight inspection or during a pretakeoff check of the flight controls.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the inadequate preflight inspection and inadequate pretakeoff check of the flight controls, which resulted in a takeoff with the rudder gust lock installed.
NTSB Identification: ERA13FA372
This August 2013 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.