Report finds that wear on gear caused plane crash by Fincham pilot

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A plane piloted by a man from West Norfolk crashed at Conington airfield in Peterborough as it was landing, an air accident inquiry has heard.

The high performance aerobatic bi-plane suffered serious damage in the crash but the pilot, Gary Cotterell, of Main Road, Fincham, escaped uninjured.

The aircraft veered off the runway and despite the efforts of the pilot to control it hit a fence with the result that the propeller, both wings, the cowling and the engine were all damaged.

A newly-published Air Accident Investigation Branch report has pinpointed wear on tail-wheel gear as the cause of the incident.

The report says that the 1974 built Pitts Special had been brought in to land on October 24 last year by the 55-year-old pilot who had 1,044 hours’ flying experience.

However, it says that once on the runway the aircraft experienced “violent tailwheel shimmy” and that after about 100 m of ground roll, it veered to the left.

When the aircraft was inspected it was found that the right-hand tail-wheel steering link had broken, leaving the spring on the left side to pull the wheel in that direction.

The report adds : “The pilot believes that a combination of wear and shimmy had caused the link to fracture.”