Friday, October 23, 2020

Transportation Incident

October 18, 2020:

Skyhopper suffered a transportation incident on its way back home after spending a flightless day setup at the airport. I do admit that I did a hurried tear down and trailering and didn't "preflight" for transport. Everything looked as it always has, but after making a 90 degree left turn at a 'T' intersection, traveling about 600 feet, and slowly accelerating past 25 mph, I heard a loud bang through the closed windows of my vehicle. I let off the gas and looked in my rear view mirror to see that my left wing was gone! I stopped right there on the road, put on the emergency flashers, got out, and seen the wing 30 feet off the side of the road lying in someone's lawn. I picked it up as a couple cars gawked as they slowly pulled around my car and trailer. Someone living across the street came out because they heard the noise and helped direct traffic as day light faded.

As you can see, the wing tip took an extreme impact. From the lack of dirt and grass stains, it wasn't the ground that did this, so the ONLY scenario I can think of that could've resulted in this kind of damage was that the wing tip trailing edge must not have positively engage the upper wing support bracket's inverted 'V' notch, and that the inertia of the turn caused the wing to swing out enough to be in the line of fire of the speed limit sign.

Luckily, I was less than a 1/4 mile from my subdivision entry and was able to force the wing back in to its wing carrier brackets, even though the padded LE rest near the root end of the wing (made of 3/4" plywood) was half broken off, probably from the impact pushing the wing backward and the sharp swing it took after hitting the sign.

Needless to say, I have a winter project in store, as I will inevitably rebuild both wings, fixing the problematic root ribs that were never reinforced with cap strips. I'll also get to inspect the strength and longevity of my internal workmanship (namely if the 3M 5200FC polyurethane adhesive/rubber remained adhered to the raw aluminum LE and TE spars after 5 years of flight and thermal flexing).

Definitely not an airworthy surface or internal structures.

Notice the zigzag in the aluminum 'V' TE at the wing tip and the folded up tip of TE spar that was notched and flattened to hold the wing tip spar.

Looking down the TE (root end) to the deformations caused by the impact force pushing the wing against the upper inverted 'V' wing hangar bracket.

TE looking toward the wing tip, showing direct impact damage. Fortunately, the LE was unaffected.

1 comment:

  1. I am really sorry to see this. Hopefully you can get her back in the sky soon.