AAIB investigation to Miles M38 Messenger 4B, G-AKVZ
Loss of directional control during crosswind takeoff, Biggin Hill Airport, Kent, 19 July 2016.
The pilot and two passengers were intending to fly to a private airstrip near Paddock Wood in Kent. The pilot stated the aircraft type has poor handling characteristics in a crosswind takeoff, which is exacerbated when the wind is from the right. He also commented that the brakes had “poor efficiency” and that the rudders provide minimal directional control until the airspeed exceeds about 28 KIAS.
The pilot stated that he was concerned about the wind direction and speed, which was reported from 140° at 10 kt. As he booked out, he requested the use of Runway 11, but this was denied as it was closed; Runway 21 was active at the time. Prior to boarding the aircraft, the pilot stated that he had convinced himself that he could not accept Runway 21 as he mistakenly believed that this would provide an excessive crosswind component from the right. As a consequence, he decided to take off in the reciprocal direction on Runway 03, which did result in a right crosswind component.
The initial takeoff run proceeded normally but, as soon as the tailwheel lifted from the ground, the aircraft entered a ground loop. The pilot attempted to regain directional control, but the aircraft departed the right side of the runway and both landing gear legs collapsed; the propeller struck the ground and the engine stopped. The aircraft came to rest and the pilot and passengers left the aircraft unaided.
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Published: 13 October 2016
Date of occurrence: 19 July 2016