General Aviation News will often reprint excerpts from National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident reports, including one from an August 2010 report about an incident involving a Ryan Navion B in Fort Myers (Florida) that led to substantial damage to the aircraft but no injuries. According to the accident report, the pilot of the aircraft had discovered that the elevator trim adjustment wheel was binding when it was set to the full airplane nose-up position. He made the discovery on his previous flight and he planned to have the aircraft inspected after the flight was concluded.
However and upon landing at his destination, the pilot discovered that all of the airport facilities had closed for the evening. Hence, he decided to continue with his plans to pick up passengers and then he departed for his home airport.
The flight home was normal until the pilot began to trim the aircraft for the landing flare. At that point, the aircraft pitched up uncontrollably and the left wing hit the ground – causing substantial damage. The investigation revealed that the trim wheel was binding on the instrument panel when the trim was set to a nose-up position but when the trim wheel was removed from the trim system, the rest of the mechanism could move in both the up and down directions.
Hence, the binding of the trim wheel on the instrument panel was ruled to be the probable cause of the accident but also the pilot’s improper decision to depart from the airport with a known mechanical problem was also ruled to be a cause. In other words, he should have made the difficult decision to spend the night at his destination rather than risk his life and the lives of his passengers along with those on the ground by taking off and trying to get home.