According to the pilot, he was taking off from a grass airstrip near Pace, Florida, which was outlined by trees, in a tailwheel-equipped Waco bi-plane.
He increased the airspeed and pushed forward on the stick to raise the tailwheel off of the ground and the airplane began to veer left.
The pilot recalled he applied full right rudder and right aileron, and the plane felt like it was “skipping down the runway” while continuing the left veer.
The plane then swerved to the right, the nose pitched up, and the airplane “skipped” and became airborne at a low airspeed.
The pilot pulled the throttle back and the airplane banked left, and the left upper and lower wings hit the ground.
The plane came to rest facing the opposite direction of takeoff, with substantial damage to the left wings and fuselage.
The pilot reported that he believes the left main landing gear brake locked up, initiating the accident sequence.
An FAA airworthiness inspector inspected the wheel and brake assembly, which had separated from the airplane as a result of the impact, and found that the left wheel rotated freely with no indication of binding. The brake assembly revealed no indications of seizure, and a function check indicated normal operation at the time of the inspection.
The FAA inspector also reported that there were no indications of ground scars on the grass strip in the area of the takeoff roll that indicated binding or seizure of the left brake.
Furthermore, a cell phone video of the takeoff, viewed by the NTSB investigator, showed the airplane during the takeoff roll with the tailwheel on the ground for the entire duration of the takeoff roll.
The recording showed that as the airplane veered left, the airplane ascended with the nose canted approximately 45° to the left of the runway centerline. The airplane remained airborne for seven seconds before it descended in a left bank, and hit the ground.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain directional control during the takeoff roll, and his excessive pitch attitude at low airspeed during initial climb, resulting in an aerodynamic stall and consequent ground impact.
NTSB Identification: GAA16CA229
This May 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.