The pilot of the tailwheel-equipped airplane reported that, during takeoff from a remote airstrip in Willow, Alaska, the Maule MX-7 hit a snowdrift and was “launched” into the air. Subsequently, he heard something break.
He added that the airplane appeared to be fine with no indications of a problem other than the left tire “looked a little off.”
The pilot returned to his original departure airport without further incident.
During a post-accident examination, his mechanic discovered that the tubing in the bottom of the fuselage where the oleo strut attached to the main landing gear was broken.
As a safety recommendation, the pilot added that walking the runway before takeoff might have revealed the snowdrift.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to ensure that the runway was clear of any obstacles before departure, which resulted in the airplane hitting a snowdrift.
NTSB Identification: GAA17CA101
This December 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.