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Losing 8.50 x 6 Tire on Takeoff in Wichita


While at the Skywagon Convention in Wichita, I had a sudden flat (valve stem failed) on my 8.50 x 6 tire during takeoff just after the tail was airborne and "ready to fly". I had enough airspeed to easily lift and hold the wheel up, would have to land somewhere, sometime, and Yinglings was just across the wide runway. I let the big, LOCKED, XP tailwheel back down first, held full elevator back pressure and slowed to where I could no longer hold the tire aloft. When it came down, my McCauley 3 piece wheel flew apart shearing the brake caliper with it, and the rotor disc also separated by shearing the attachment bolts. Heavy counter braking, and the locked tailwheel with full back pressure kept us on the runway, stopping on the shoulder. The tower kept the runway open to allow the 65 Skywagons lined up behind me to take off, often with the passengers waving as they went off to the scheduled breakfast. I was left to fix the damage alone, using the Yingling hangar and replaced both wheels and brakes with 3 bolt, two piece Clevelands. During that evening's cocktail hour I was informed by many about the danger of using the three piece wheels. I think a 'technical critique" session should be held at all Skywagon fly-ins so that the old timers can help with suggestions to newbies about what should be done to their aircraft.

In spite of saving the Avemco insurance company from repairing a groundloop, they insisted on increasing my rates as I used their money in my claim to buy the new wheels. I now insure through Bill White and preach the importance of locking the tailwheel for any take-off or landing, and am thankful for the added grip of the big XP tailwheel.