Pilot Heard And Felt A “Pop” That Appeared To Emanate From Somewhere In The Airplane

Location: Soldotna, AK Accident Number: ANC20LA064
Date & Time: 07/04/2020, 1523 AKD Registration: N3604A
Aircraft: Piper PA22 Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation – Personal

On July 4, 2020, about 1523 Alaska daylight time, a Piper PA-22 airplane, N3604A, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Soldotna, Alaska. The private pilot was not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot reported that once established in a cruise, level flight configuration, around 1,300 ft mean sea level (msl), he heard and felt a “pop” that appeared to emanate from somewhere in the airplane. He said that the airplane then began a shallow, uncommanded descent, and the elevator began to “flutter.” The pilot noted that the elevator was not “stuck”, but he was unable to maintain altitude. The pilot subsequently selected a paved, rural neighborhood road as an emergency landing site. During touchdown, the airplane landed hard, and the main landing gear collapsed, sustaining substantial damage to the left wing, both wing lift struts, and the fuselage.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector examined the airplane after recovery and reported that flight control continuity was established. The inspector noted that the area above the windscreen, where the fabric was connected to the fuselage, had separated.

He also indicated that the fabric did not tear, rather the adhesive that held the fabric to the structure failed, and a portion of the fabric peeled aft.

FAA Airworthiness Directive (AD) 74-17-04, applies, in part, to Piper PA-22 series airplanes. In short, the AD provides instructions for installing a reinforcement metal strip to avoid a sudden failure of the fabric at the top of the windscreen where the fabric attaches to the channel.

An NTSB wreckage and maintenance logbook examination, to include historical AD compliance, is pending.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov