Not too long ago, I was looking forward to an hour or so of poking holes in the sky in a Piper Cherokee 180. What I didn’t know when I arrived quite carefree at the airport was that Mr. Murphy was hard at work applying his law, and it didn’t take long for me to discover that neither the parking-brake handle nor the foot brakes would develop any pressure unless pumped numerous times. I didn’t feel like taking a chance that the plane wouldn’t stop after landing. Air trapped in the system during maintenance or because of a leak seemed the likely culprit. As anyone who’s familiar with Cherokee brakes can tell you, when there’s a lot of trapped air, simple bleeding isn’t enough. You need to use a pressure system to force the air out with a flood of fresh fluid. That’s just what it took to get the brakes operating again. The experience prompted me to look at the NTSB’s files for accidents involving brakes.
The airplane had a new student and instructor on board. They were getting ready for a flight from the Habersham County Airport in Cornelia, Ga. The instructor told investigators that the only problem noted during preflight was a low nosewheel tire. Air was added, they started up, taxied out and took off. They flew north of the airport for some air work, then went back for landing. The student pilot made a normal landing to runway 24. The student taxied to the end of the runway, and turned left onto the taxiway. The CFI told the student to stop after clearing the runway. The airplane went further than the instructor wanted, and he told the student to apply brakes. When the airplane kept moving, the CFI also applied brakes. The CFI applied the hand brake, and the airplane still wouldn’t stop. The CFI pulled the mixture to idle cutoff. The airplane went down an embankment and hit some trees. The occupants escaped injury.