This is an excerpt from a report made to the Aviation Safety Reporting System. The narrative is written by the pilot, rather than FAA or NTSB officials. To maintain anonymity, many details, such as aircraft model or airport, are often scrubbed from the reports.
During the annual inspection of the Cessna 188 I removed a clevis bolt that secures the upper and lower elevator control cables to the control stick. I found the bolt to be excessively worn so the cables remained detached while a replacement bolt was on order. When the new clevis bolt arrived I installed it into the control stick securing only the upper cable.
After installation I moved the control stick to actuate the elevator and it seemed to work properly because the attached cable moved the elevator up and gravity pulled the elevator back down. Flight control freedom of movement was also checked by two other A&P mechanics and the pilot before flight.
The lower elevator control cable is routed from the control stick through a tube and then down around a pulley. When the problem was discovered, the lower cable end was hidden inside the tube.
I believe the hidden cable is one factor that led to my mistake.
Another factor is my failure to request a secondary maintenance check.
The problem was initially discovered by the pilot just after takeoff when he realized he had no control of the elevator. The plane was then landed with no damage or injuries.
After landing a flight control inspection revealed a very loose elevator cable under the pilot seat and the inspector followed the cable forward to find the end inside the tube but not connected to the control stick as it should be. I then installed the lower cable along with the upper cable to the control stick with the clevis bolt.
No other discrepancies were found during the post-flight inspection.
I arrived at the airport to fly my aircraft as it had come out of annual and also had its engine overhauled.
Upon preflight inspection of the exterior and interior of the airplane no discrepancies were discovered. All surface controls moved freely.
Upon engine run-up while performing the pre-takeoff check list all flight controls moved freely and in the correct manner.
On takeoff I recognized the stall warning horn and an abnormal pitch up after rotation. I immediately provided full forward pressure on the stick and received no response. I proceeded to reduce power and add full forward trim, which lowered the nose of the aircraft. It became clear that the plane did not have elevator control.
I proceeded to keep the engine in normal operating range, trim full forward, and circle back to the runway I had departed. I landed with the use of flaps and full aft trim (to flare), leaving the stick full forward. The landing was uneventful.
I taxied over to maintenance. Upon inspection of the aircraft, an elevator cable which is connected at the base of stick was not connected. This cable and pulley is only visible when panels and other coverings are removed.
Primary Problem: Procedure