“I survived a Piper Seneca in flight break-up” Reprinted from Aviation Safety, April 1982

Flutter Survivor:

“I survived a Piper Seneca in flight break-up”

Reprinted from Aviation Safety, April 1982

I found your article on Seneca tail flutter quite Interesting and it brought back some sobering memories of December 27, 1976, as I am one of the pilots who luckily survived a Piper Seneca in flight break-up, I would just like to add some comments that may help aircraft owners realize the potentially serious problems with trim tab free play.

The flutter testing flights for N33589 was not taken as very dangerous because of our previous success with the Seneca. In fact, I had just completed a series of flutter flights on a Seneca II equipped with Robertson spoilers and tip tanks. The accelerometer traces were good, but the camera that recorded the speeds and altitude malfunctioned. The FAA wouldn’t accept our data without speed verifications, and by the time the bad film was developed the aircraft was reconfigured for delivery. The owner was impatient and wanted his aircraft, The FAA allowed us to deliver this aircraft with some restrictions, and flutter testing was to be completed on N33589.

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