Ground loop wing tip bend, damit!
Hey Stinson family,
My joy at being a new Stinson owner was dulled this weekend by my first ground loop ?. I was taking off from my 40 ft by 1,500 ft pasture strip with a variable crosswind of about 10-14 kts. Initially I set up to roll with the wind from the right and slight headwind for P factor and headwind, but during the run up the wind shifted making it a quartering tailwind. After about 10 mins waiting for it to shift back I talked myself into switching ends for the headwind component rather than just waiting, or accepting a net 2-3 knot tailwind to keep the P factor control on the narrow strip. I suspect the wind did shift back and when I raised the tail she started an unstoppable left turn despite full right rudder. I rejected and got the tail back down with full right rudder and light braking but was already into bouncy terrain and she swung the tail around and tipped just enough for the right wing to touch the top of a gopher mound (or so it seemed). It was all slow motion, not so bad. Sadly while I didn’t scratch the paint or break the wingtip light it looks like the false spar was bent just a bit. damn. I pulled her out of the rough with my tractor, then taxied her back to the parking area. Not a great day. I have a couple of local A&P/IA guys going out to assess the damage and hopefully it is an easy fix but she is on a remote farm strip. Don’t know how complicated or expensive this could be but will share the journey for the next adventurer to learn from.
So now I am soliciting advice from those of you with experience:
1. Stories of ground loop experience and techniques to avoid it on grass.
2. Stinson wingtip repair experiences and advice.
3. Advice on dealing with insurance companies for damage. I have full coverage with no deductible but is filing a claim going to Jack future rates more than the cost of the repair?
If you have full coverage, tell them you want to fly it somewhere to be repaired. That is not much damage and almost any a&p would sign off on a ferry permit.
Well Jeff, as you texted me, this just plain sucks. You had such a high getting her onto your strip and now this. I do know that the metal work of replacing the false spar is not difficult as I have done it on one of my project wings. The harder part will be the fabric work.
Did you local AP/IA look inside and get any pics? I know you are in the middle of building a small hangar for your bird, when do you expect to have that done? I’m not sure about flying it out, but if you can prob the best, but the repair can be done at your place.
Cut off the fabric, fix the metal work, recover the tip and spray in Silver. Then you could fly it off to somewhere to color match it.
Sorry about that Jeff...but fixing it should not be that bad. First thing you would need to get in and look to make sure the damage is only to the false spar. You can repair those easy and I believe Univair has in stock. Wing tip bow should be okay (if not, let me know, I have a few spare). I am more concerned with aft spar seeing the buckling inboard of the outer aileron hinge point - special attention to that area to ensure no damage to aft spar. if spars are okay, and you have proper aileron travel, I would try to get a ferry permit. Likely the outer 6' of wing needs to be opened up to effect repairs to metal and re-tension of the flying wires. The whole wing should not require new fabric. Paint match up to a tape 6' in will be fine.
On insurance - that is why you have it....
On ground loop avoidance...not sure I have much advice there other than practice lots with light winds. Can't tell you how many days I wanted to go fly, but the cross wind kept me on the ground. I find grass is way more forgiving than pavement - and that rejecting a take-off once the tail is up in a crosswind is a serious hand-full! Some may disagree, but I would rather run off the side of the runway straight and in control, then fighting to keep it centerline. This happened to a friend of mine (airline Pilot) one day as he fought to keep the plane on the runway, I told him "run it into the grass, quit fighting it and overcontrolling". He eventually got control but it was ugly, loud and scary. He told me after "30 years of flying heavy iron - I have never had to take an aircraft off a runway, and I am not going to start now". Fair enough - but these little taildraggers can handle some rough pasture and grass when moving in a straight line...don't let the ego get in the way.
To wrap the story for the next lucky player I ferried it to Greg Lucas and Mike Redpath in Sulphur OK. It took them a couple of months but she is good as new.
See Picts. The insurance company didn’t bat an eye and paid $8,844.91 for the repairs upon submitting the invoice, an explanation of the damage event, and a pilot currency summary and pict of my logbook. Back to flying and getting grass in my tail springs. 👍
Jeff don't feel so bad. As for the choice of steering off the runway to avoid the ground loop, it doesn't always turn out so well.
This is how I bought my project after that was done. Ground loop would have been a good result in hindsight. On the other hand, I wouldn't have a project plane that I'm still collecting parts for... Thanks Will you have been a great resource.
@glen, what engine is in your bird? Do I see a different intake on that lower cowl?