A Beechcraft E18S was about to take part in an airshow at Melun Villaroche, France on this day in aviation history, 2021.
The first take-off from a group of historic aircraft was a Consolidated PBY Cataline that took off from runway 28, next was a formation of seven North American T-6 Texans that took off from runway 01. The Beechcraft was the last of the group of aircraft, it taxied out to runway 01 behind the Texans.
The left wingtip strikes the runway (© DGAC)
The weather recorded at 15.00 lt (local time) indicated an overcast sky and a wind of 10 knots from the southwest (230º). This gave the aircraft taking off from runway 28 a headwind, and the aircraft taking off from 01 a tailwind component of approximately 8 knots.
Aircraft positions on runway 01, also indicating the wind direction (© BEA)
After the seven Texans were airborne, the Beechcraft was cleared for take-off, the brakes were released, and the aircraft started accelerating down the centre line of runway 01.
As soon as the tail lifted off the ground the Beech 18 rolled left and then rolled strongly to the right while the right main landing gear rolled off the runway onto grass adjacent to the runway. The pilot attempted to correct with rudder input. The aircraft became airborne and immediately rolled to left sharply and the left wing tip struck the runway while the aircraft continued towards the left of the runway while touching down on both main gears again. The aircraft went off the runway while skidding over the ground and tearing through a fence after the right main landing gear was torn off when going over an embankment. The aircraft ground looped and came to a stop in a field, ~115 meters from the runway, 40 meters from a field filled with spectators.
The aircraft at the start of its ill-fated take-off run. Note windsock indicating a tailwind. (Source youtube.com)
An investigation was launched by the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Ánalyses (BEA - French Air Accident investigation organisation). In their report the following conclusion is drawn;
"The pilot, accompanied by a safety pilot, was performing a demonstration flight as part of an air show. Its takeoff from runway 01 with a tailwind component estimated at 7 to 8 kt, shortly following that of a formation of seven T6s.
The T6 pilots' decision to take off from runway 01 may have prompted the Beech 18 pilot not to take off from runway 28, which is longer and to take off in tailwind conditions that he mastered a little and for which the Beech 18 is known to be a Airport layout (© BEA) hand full.
Disturbances related to the wake turbulence of the T6s and the blasts from their combined propellers and the tailwind component surprised the pilot during the rotation and be the cause of the destabilization of the aeroplane. The pilot failed to regain control
aircraft and the safety pilot aborted the takeoff. This action led to a runway excursion but made it possible to limit the consequences of the loss of control."
The incident flight was filmed by © Franck Guignard
The BEA report, on which this blog is based, is available for the readers' reference by clicking on the .pdf file below;