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N13RW accident description

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Tail numberN13RW
Accident dateApril 04, 2002
Aircraft typeNorth American T-28B
LocationUvalde, TX
Near 29.211111 N, -99.743333 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On April 4, 2002, approximately 1605 central standard time, a North American T-28B vintage airplane, N13RW, registered to Power Play Incorporated of Palm Beach, Florida, and operated by a private individual, was destroyed when it impacted terrain shortly after take off from runway 15 of the Garner Municipal Airport near Uvalde, Texas. The airline transport pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The flight originated approximately 1600.

Five eye-witnesses were interviewed by the NTSB investigator-in-charge. Summaries of their observations are cited below.

Witness #1, who was working on the ramp at the airport about 1500, observed the aircraft being pulled out of a aviation museum hangar with the engine cowlings open. About 1600, he heard and observed the aircraft performing an engine run-up at execute a "normal" takeoff from runway 15. Throughout the takeoff sequence, he did not notice any abnormalities or abnormal sounds from the aircraft.

Witness #2, who was working on airport property, observed the aircraft take off from the runway, and execute a left turn with a "normal" climb out to downwind. He stated that the engine sounded "normal." The aircraft seemed "stable" in the climb and was parallel to the runway approximately 800-1,000 feet above ground level (agl). He then observed the aircraft begin a left turn to the west, and just as the left turn "seemed" complete, the aircraft "did one to one and one-half barrel rolls in level flight." Then, while inverted, the aircraft "tucked under and went straight down." A large ball of fire and dark smoke rose from the ground after the aircraft after impacted the ground. This witness immediately drove his vehicle to the area of smoke and fire and observed the burning wreckage.

Witness #3 was in his office, located on Highway 90 (which was oriented north of, and perpendicular to runway 15), when he heard the aircraft pass overhead. He then observed the aircraft through his glass office door as the plane flew in a northerly direction away from him. He stated that as the aircraft turned to a westerly heading, the aircraft "rolled over and flew inverted for about two seconds." His view of the aircraft was briefly obscured by a tree . The aircraft, still inverted, "flew nose first into the ground."

Witness #4, who was driving a vehicle on FM 2369 (about 2 miles west of its intersection with Highway 90), observed the aircraft "coming directly down nose first at a high rate of speed" slightly north of his location. He then witnessed the aircraft strike the ground about 100 yards north of him, and an immediate explosion and large fireball ensued. He stopped his vehicle and called a friend to call "nine one one." He and two others went to the crash site where they found the aircraft in flames with almost nothing recognizable.

Witness #5, who was driving a vehicle east on FM 2369, observed the aircraft flying "straight, then roll[ed] upside down, then crash[ed] straight into the ground."

No radio transmissions or distress calls were received from the accident aircraft. Persons at the airport who were in contact with the pilot prior to the flight did not report any unusual circumstances or behavior.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate, with multiple type ratings in high performance aircraft. He had issued the proper FAA Letter of Authorization (LOA) endorsement to operate the T-28. In addition, the pilot held a valid airframe and power plant certificate. The pilot's most recent Class-II medical certificate was issued on September 14, 2001, with the restriction to wear corrective lenses while operating an aircraft.

According to FAA records, the pilot reported a total flight time of 3,500 hours as of the date of his last medical examination. A family member estimated his total flight time in the T-28 to be approximately 88 hours, and also stated that the pilot's total career flight time greatly exceeded the 3,500 hours reported on his last medical certificate application. Several aviation professionals and family members reported that the pilot always was "professional and meticulous" as a pilot and mechanic, and that he had passions for flying and vintage aircraft.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The North American T-28B, serial number 138246, was manufactured in 1953, and was powered by a Wright Cyclone R-1820 radial engine driving a 3-blade Hamilton Standard. The aircraft's registration certificate was dated, December 17, 1998, with an "experimental" airworthiness certificate and was approved for "exhibition" operations. The pilot acquired the T-28B sometime in October of 1998. The aircraft had been stored in a hangar associated with an aviation museum on airport property for several months. Logbooks for the aircraft were not recovered. According to a family member and airport personnel, access to the hangar was not controlled, and that the general public could come in to look at the aircraft. The aircraft had not been flown in several months prior to the morning of the accident.

Approximately 489 T-28B's were manufactured for the Navy and utilized for combat and military pilot training in the middle 1950's to the middle 1980's. After they were retired from military service, they became available on the civil market. Vintage T-28's are typically found in aviation museum collections and registered with experimental airworthiness certificates and operated as exhibition aircraft which allows for proficiency flying and air events. All non-air event flights are considered by the FAA as proficiency flights.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located in an area covered by brush and small trees about 2.5 miles northwest of the departure end of runway 15. The wreckage debris severely fragmented and was distributed over an area approximately 110 feet long and 75 feet wide, in a general north-to-south orientation. Evidence of an extensive ground fire was observed surrounding the debris, and mostly all of the wreckage debris was found within the boundaries of the fire area.

The main portion of the wreckage, which included the engine, propeller, both wings, and fractured fuselage structure was found in a shallow crater in the southern-most area of the scattered debris. The orientation of the engine and forward section of the fuselage within the crater exhibited evidence that the aircraft impacted the ground in a nose-low, inverted attitude. The 3-blade propeller exhibited evidence of rotation at the time of impact. Mostly all of the wreckage within and adjacent to the impact point was consumed by post-impact fire. The empennage, rudder, and horizontal stabilizer were found about 25 feet north of the impact point.

Due to the extensive impact and fire damage, flight control continuity could not be established from the cockpit outboard to the wings, however, flight control cables and push/pull rods that were observed appeared to be damaged as a result of impact. Flight control cables, rods, and bell cranks within the empennage rearward to the horizontal stabilizer, elevators, and rudder did not reveal pre-impact anomalies. Several pieces of flight control surfaces, flaps, and wing skin material were found north of the impact crater, and appeared to have been "blown back" during the impact sequence. Both left and right main landing gears, and the nose landing gear were found in the retracted position.

Examination of the wreckage debris did not reveal any pre-impact anomalies.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

On April 4, 2002, at 1551, the Hondo Municipal Airport (HDO) near Hondo, Texas, reported that the weather as wind 070 degrees at 10 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, overcast at 4,000 feet above ground level, a temperature of 62 degrees Fahrenheit, a dew point of 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.26 degrees of Mercury. Witnesses in the area of the accident stated that it was "cloudy and overcast" at the time of the accident.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy of the pilot was performed by the Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office, San Antonio, Texas, on April 5, 2002. Toxicological tests were performed by the FAA Civil Aero Medical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on April 10, 2002.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The aircraft wreckage was released to the owner on April 5, 2002.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.