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25th of September 2004, Gust lock, Blog #618

A Bushmaster 2000 was participating in an airshow at the Fullerton Airport Appreciation Day, (California, USA) on this day in aviation history in 2004. The Bushmaster 2000 (with serial number 2) was a commuter aircraft based on the Ford Trimotor. Development started in 1953 using an old Ford Tri-Motor. It was powered by three Pratt & Whitney R-985 engines.

The aircraft in its final position (Source; © S. Giron) After performing the flight pre-flight activities the aircraft taxied to runway 24 for its VFR flight. As it started to accelerate down the runway the aircraft started to veer to the left. The aircraft left the paved area of the runway and entered the grass between the runway and the taxiway, crossed over the taxiway and kept on veering left while still accelerating. As it approached the ramp, which was filled with parked aircraft and spectators, the pilot pulled the aircraft up barely missing the ramp. As the aircraft continued to veer left it flew between the airport control tower and a light pole, the bank angle increased to ~90º at this time.

Shortly after the aircraft crashed, reaching a maximum height of between 50 and 100 feet above the ground during the accident flight. The aircraft came to a rest just outside the airport boundary fence, its left wing impacted a vehicle on the aircraft perimeter road.

The aircraft in its final position (Source; © S. Giron) The weather at the time of the accident was good;

  • Wind : 230º / 7 knots

  • Visibility : 7 miles

  • Temperature : 30ºC

  • Dewpoint : 17ºC

  • Altimeter : 29.88 inHg (1009 hPa)

Both occupants of the aircraft sustained injuries in the crash, 1 serious and minor. Both occupants of the car that was struck by the left-wing sustained minor injuries.

Video of the accident flight as uploaded to YouTube by radicalbehaviors The accident was investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). For their investigation, they made extensive use of photo and video material of the accident flight, provided by ground observers. During analysis of the wreckage and the photo and video material, it became apparent that a nylon strap was attached between a rudder hinge point and an elevator hinge. This served as a makeshift gust lock. The NTSB concluded that the probable cause of this accident was;

"The inadequate preflight inspection by the pilot-in-command, where the pilot failed to remove the makeshift gust lock attached to the rudder and left elevator of the airplane. As a result, the airplane veered off the runway surface during the takeoff roll, became airborne, and immediately began an uncontrolled descending left roll until impacting vehicles and the ground."

The aircraft in better days (Source: © B. Word)

The NTSB report, which served as one of the sources for this blog can be accessed by clicking on the file below;

24Sep2023 Gustlock Bushmaster 2000
Download PDF • 107KB

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