Control Lock Eyed as Culprit in Massachusetts Aeronca Champ Crash

Rudder gust lock found installed.

NTSB investigators say the crash of an Aeronca Champ at Taunton Municipal Airport in Massachusetts over the weekend may have been caused by the pilot’s failure to remove the rudder gust lock before trying to take off.

The 1946 Aeronca 7AC reached an altitude of around 50 to 100 feet seconds after taking off on Sunday morning before starting a gradual right turn and crashing onto a taxiway, according to an eyewitness. The two men on board were killed.

NTSB investigator Luke Schiada told local media that he found the rudder gust lock still installed in the Aeronca when he reached the crash scene. “The effect of that gust lock on the accident flight is something that will be analyzed,” he told reporters.

A 911 call came in at about 6:15 a.m. from a witness who was standing inside a hangar at the airport. The witness reportedly saw the taildragger take off normally, enter a shallow right turn and continue into the ground where it burst into flames. He said the engine sounded normal.

Both men killed in the crash were pilots. One of them had purchased the airplane last month, according to local media reports.

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