- Mar 13, 2008
- Upper midwest in a house
I agree. The plane was NOT a tailwind. Other than some visual resemblance, the airplane had nothing in common with the increasingly popular tailwind.That was Wittman’s O&O Special (Sort of a long-range Tailwind on steroids; O&O = Oshkosh to Ocala …).
It's quite possible the NTSB arrived at the wrong conclusion with regard to the probable cause. The airplane may have first experienced airframe flutter, which caused the already detached fabric to be pulled from the plywood wing surface. There is no conclusive evidence either way in which order the events of the accident occurred. Having seen the airplane about a yr and a half before the accident, I can confirm the wing fabric had several places were it was not bonded to the plywood wing surface. The fabric was still quite taut and not any more subject to flutter than a wing without an underlying plywood skin. SW knew this which is why he continued to fly the plane in that condition - it's not a concern that would warrant grounding the plane. The finish was also mottled as reported but that too is more a cosmetic issue than a safety issue.This topic was understandably batted around among the Tailwind folks – As best as I recall, by the time of the delamination, the fabric/wing attachment was almost 20-year old, so although the chain of events that led to catastrophic failure was real enough, it took years to actually develop… regrettably some of the old hands remember someone noting the start of the delamination (just a bubble at the time), and bringing it to Steve’s attention – he apparently said he’d fix it soon
Put another way, had SW used unmarked (uncertified) fabric, there would have been no covering process manual to reference and the NTSB would not have had any evidence that the fabric was improperly applied.
apologies for the diversion......