Mel's Tailstand Incident

This article appeared in the December 2001 issue of the Falco Builders Letter.

by Mel Olson

While Mel was at the emergency room getting 28 stitches, Mike took these photos of the plane.

On October 29, 2001, while my son Mike and I were detailing the aircraft paint job, the tailstand broke and the aircraft nosed over, fell off the jacks and onto the floor. When the tail came back down, I was standing underneath it and received a cut on the top of my scalp worth 28 stitches.

After picking myself up off the floor and looking at the airplane, that is when I had one of the most indescribable sinking, sickening feelings I can remember. There it was, a jack protruding through each wing.

Right wing -- jack protruding a little over one foot.

After an ambulance ride, three hours in the emergency room, and 28 stitches later, I returned to the hangar in spite of protests from my wife and son. Thank God, my son Michael was not under the aircraft when this happened (where he had been 15 minutes earlier).

With the help of two flight line personnel and my son Mike, we lifted the aircraft off the floor using car jacks and removed the aircraft jacks from the holes in the wings. We placed the aircraft back on the aircraft jacks, chained down the tail, and then lowered the gear. The gear had been retracted to facilitate touching up paint spots on the belly and landing gear doors.

Left side -- jack is protruding 18"

On further inspection, the nose gear doors were damaged, the bottom cowling damaged, bent baffling on the engine, and bent spinner. The jacks had penetrated the wings, damaging the lower and top skins and ribs #4 and #5 in both wings.

The nose gear doors were damaged to the point they had to be rebuilt. The lower engine cowling had a 10.5-inch crack that had to be repaired. The engine baffling was bent, and the engine oil cooler mount was cracked and bent. The spinner was dented, and Hartzell recommended replacing it.

The failed spot weld on the tailstand.

Mike and Mel working at home in the garage. Mike is working on the cowling and Mel is working on the wing panels.


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