Iconic British Spitfire veers off runway, collides with parked aircraft – Report

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British investigators have described an incident during which an iconic Spitfire Mk 26 veered off the runway at a UK airfield and collided with another aircraft. 

The Spitfire Mk 26, a two seat reduced-scale replica of the original Spitfire fighter aircraft, was damaged during a flight test in Breighton Airfield, the United Kingdom, on April 21, 2021. 

During an attempted three-point landing, during which the main landing gear and the tailwheel touch the ground simultaneously, the aircraft, registered as G-CLKN, bounced slightly as it touched down, before settling on all three wheels. Initially, it was heading straight ahead but around 100 meters into the landing roll, the plane veered right. 

Despite the pilot’s attempt to increase the rudder’s effectiveness by applying a “burst of power”, along with applying opposite rudder and brake, the aircraft veered off the runway and struck another aircraft, the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) outlines in a report issued on September 9, 2021. 

The damage to the Spitfire Mk 26 includes a broken propeller and damage to the left wing. 

The incident occurred during the eleventh test flight for the aircraft. The test flights were taking place to obtain a Permit to Fly  ‒ a special warrant for non-commercial flying issued in cases when other certificates, like a Certificate of Airworthiness, are not applicable. 

At the moment, it is not clear what caused the loss of control, according to the authority. “Wheeler landings may be preferable on the type, and disengagement of the tailwheel steering during a bounced three-point landing could have been a factor,” the AAIB report reads.

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