While it took the Waco Classic Aircraft Corporation months to construct John Weber’s beautitful brand new Waco YMF-F5C (N415WW, s/n F5C-8-126), as shown in this time-lapse video on YouTube, it took Weber only seconds to deconstruct it in Moriarty, New Mexico on 16 October.
Weber and a passenger, one Charles Conquergood, were on a long cross-country, moving the Waco from Anderson, Indiana to Carefree, Arizona when the deed was done at the stopping point in Moriarty.
“After a good three-point landing [at Moriarty], the aircraft started to turn, and I applied what I thought was a small amount of rudder,” said Weber in the NTSB accident report.
Control of his lower appendages had been compromised, however.
Being that the Waco is an open-cockpit aircraft, Weber had to dress appropriately.
“Weather was quite chilly so pilot and passenger wore multiple layer of clothes including heavy insulated coveralls,” he wrote, adding, “Pilot at the last moment decided to wear heavy insulated steel-toed boots.”
While keeping his feet warm, those boots exposed his Achilles heel when he applied that “small amount” of rudder on landing.
“The aircraft abruptly swerved the opposite direction. I pressed hard on that rudder and the airplane turned over,” he says. “It is apparent to me that I was applying brake rather than rudder.” Neither man was injured but the plane is listed as “destroyed” in Weber’s report.
In his recommendation for how the accident could have been prevented, Weber tells it like it is:
Weber continues with some good advice, however: “In the future be sure that any footwear or clothing does not interfere with proper ‘sensing’ and operation of the controls. Had I been wearing light footwear, I am sure I would have been able to detect teh back pressure from the brakes.”