Unattached Vertical Fin



Here is a photo of a vertical stabilizer attach point on an RV-9A that is completely missing the four lower attach bolts shown in the plans!

When the rudder was deflected by hand on the ground, you could actually see the spar moving away from the fuselage.

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Vic Syracuse
Vic is a fixed-wing and helicopter commercial pilot, CFII with ASMEL/ASES ratings, an A&P/IA, DAR, and EAA technical advisor and flight counselor. Passionately involved in aviation for over 40 years, he has built 11 aircraft and logged over 10,000 hours in 72 different kinds of aircraft. Vic volunteers as a Young Eagle pilot, has his own sport aviation business called Base Leg Aviation, and has written two books on aircraft prebuy and condition inspections.


  1. When you show stuff like this, it would be nice to have some context.
    Like how it was found, the implications, had the aircraft been flying,
    and a LOT of other details.

  2. Wow, fascinating.

    There’s a lot of stuff going on at that bulkhead on a 6/7/9. And it depends on whether it’s going to have the third wheel in the front or the back. I wonder if the plans-recommended washer was installed above that location to compensate for the angularly offset vertical stab.

    In this case it looks like someone started out building it as a taildragger, as it appears that the tail light wires are emerging from a tailwheel stinger socket. And then someone else completed it as an A, without bothering to check off the work done previously.

    Project passed on/sold to multiple builders? I’ve dealt with this myself, having taken over a couple of partially completed projects and found some surprises that I may have not noticed without friends looking over my shoulder. Due diligence is essential, plus as many extra eyeballs as can be found.

  3. On my old AirCam, that I bought already flying, the manual mentioned six bolts holding the vertical fin front spar to the fuselage, but the diagram only showed two — if I recall the details correctly. My plane only had the two…


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