According to the airline transport pilot, during the takeoff roll at the airport in Anchorage, Alaska, the Maule M-4 briefly exited the runway to the left after the passenger inadvertently pushed the left rudder pedal.
While correcting for the runway excursion, the right main landing gear hit a taxiway sign.
The pilot and passenger reported that they did not observe any damage from their cockpit seats, and continued the takeoff roll and departure.
After reaching their destination, during the touchdown roll, the pilot noticed the right main landing gear tire deflated and affirmed that “the right wheel dug in and threw up debris that damaged the right elevator.”
However, photographs taken at the departure airport depict a taxiway sign with blue paint and metallic particle transfer on the sign, which appears to be the same blue color as the accident airplane.
The photographs also show damage to the sign consistent with the damage to the airplane’s elevator. There were impact impressions on the taxiway sign’s black metal frame that were consistent with the damage sustained to the right side of the airplane’s elevator.
The pilot reported that he used duct tape to make repairs to the airplane, took off and landed at their final destination airport without further incident.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the elevator.
Probable cause: The inadvertent rudder input by the passenger, resulting in a runway excursion during takeoff and collision with a taxiway sign.
NTSB Identification: GAA16CA141
This February 2016 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.