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The pilot reported that, the day before the accident, he had flown the Beech 55 and wanted to become more comfortable with new instruments that had been installed.
After that flight, while in a hangar at the airport in San Antonio, Texas, he and a friend turned the airplane’s electrical power on to familiarize the pilot with the autopilot system and specifically with how it would follow heading bug settings.
During the familiarization, they “ran the [pitch] trim all the way up.”
The pilot added that, before takeoff for the accident flight, he did not check the pitch trim setting because he believed it would be the same as his previous flight, instead of the pitch trim setting after his autopilot ground familiarization.
He added that, during takeoff, the nose pitched up severely. He lowered the nose, and the airplane entered a negative G condition.
He then realized that he “did not latch the seat belt very good” and saw that his seatbelt had disconnected and that he was no longer in his seat and could not regain airplane control.
The airplane struck the runway, porpoised, and the nose landing gear collapsed. The airplane skidded and hit a taxiway light.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to both engines and the fuselage.
Post-accident examination of the airplane revealed that the vertical trim tab was in the full-down position, indicating that full nose-up trim was applied.
The Pilot’s Operating Handbook Before Takeoff checklist stated: Seat Belts and Shoulder Harnesses – CHECK… 15. Trim – AS REQUIRED FOR TAKE-OFF
Probable cause: The pilot’s improper takeoff trim setting and failure to properly secure his seatbelt, which resulted in a loss of airplane control. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to follow the Before Takeoff checklist.
This October 2018 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
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