On 23 September 2013, the pilot of a De Havilland DH-82 Tiger Moth aircraft, registered VH-RAY, taxied at Sandy Beach aeroplane landing area (ALA), New South Wales to conduct circuits in visual meteorological conditions. The pilot was the only person on board.
The pilot taxied to the end of the runway and applied the brakes to conduct engine run up checks. The pilot released the brakes and lined up on the runway heading and then applied full power for take-off. The aircraft accelerated down the runway. As the airspeed increased the tail rose to the take-off position, at about 200 meters down the runway and at about 30 knots indicated air speed the nose of the aircraft dropped very rapidly and the aircraft flipped onto its back.
The aircraft was inspected by the maintenance organisation and it was determined that the left main landing gear brake drum had evidence of corrosion and the brake operating rod was found stiff to operate. When the brakes were applied and released the left brake did not release fully. After the brake was cleaned and lubricated the brake operated normally. The maintenance organisation suspects that the left brake was partially engaged on take-off. The maintenance organisation determined that the aircraft was last flown on 12 February 2013 and the aircraft was normally stored in a high corrosion environment.
This accident is a timely reminder of the work that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is conducting on the safety of ageing aircraft in Australia.