Familiarity with Modified Aerobatic Aircraft is Recommended
by Keith Doyne, IAC Safety Chair
In a recent analysis from the NTSB investigation of an accident, in the landing phase of operation by a pilot operating a Pitts S1S, the investigation concluded that one of the contributing factors to the accident was the pilot’s lack of flight control system knowledge. In the pilot's report of the accident he stated, "...[he] had recently purchased the airplane and did not know that the rudder pedal return springs were not installed."
The investigation revealed that the airplane was previously modified for aerobatic competition with the addition of a large rudder and that due to cockpit spacing limitations, the rudder pedal return springs could not be installed. The pilot concluded that the accident could have been prevented by performing a “very thorough” inspection and understanding all the modifications made to the airplane before flying it.
This is a good reminder to anyone purchasing an aircraft with modifications (whether aerobatic or standard) to have a pre-buy inspection done and educate yourself on all aspects of your new purchase. Fortunately, the pilot in this case had minor injuries, however the aircraft had substantial damage when it departed the right side of the runway, nosed over, and came to rest inverted in the grass next to the runway.
For more details you may access a number of public docket items HERE. The final NTSB report is attached here.