Wednesday, April 25, 2018

North American SNJ-5 (AT-6D) Texan, N12377, registered to and operated by the pilot: Fatal accident occurred April 25, 2018 at Kingsville Naval Air Station (KNQI), Kleberg County, Texas

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Antonio, Texas

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Kingsville, TX
Accident Number: CEN18FA147
Date & Time: 04/25/2018, 1230 CDT
Registration: N12377
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On April 25, 2018, about 1230 central daylight time, a North American SNJ-5 airplane, N12377, impacted terrain following a loss of control during initial climb after takeoff from runway 13R (8,000 ft. by 200 ft.) at Kingsville Naval Air Station (NQI), Kingsville, Texas. The pilot and pilot rated passenger were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and the intended destination has not been confirmed.

Witnesses reported that the airplane took off on runway 13R and had requested a right hand teardrop turn for a departure toward the north. The witnesses reported seeing the airplane in a steep right bank with some witnesses reporting that the bank angle exceeded 90 degrees of bank. The airplane descended nose low and the right bank angle lessened before the airplane struck the ground.

The initial impact point was located between runway 17R/35L and taxiway B, and just south of the intersection of taxiway B and taxiway E. Both wings separated with the right wing coming to rest at the east edge of the pavement for taxiway B. The fuselage came to rest on its right side about 30 feet west of the right wing. The left wing came to rest about 100 feet further west. The airplane's engine separated from the fuselage and the supercharger section of the engine separated from the cylinder section. Control system continuity from the elevator and rudder was confirmed from the surfaces forward to their respective cockpit controls. The aileron control system had numerous cable breaks, however, each identified cable break was consistent with overload failure of the cables. The removable rear cockpit control stick was found lying on the ramp adjacent to the airplane. Examination could not confirm if the stick had been installed in its socket prior to impact. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: NORTH AMERICAN
Registration: N12377
Model/Series: SNJ 5 5
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: NQI, 50 ft msl
Observation Time: 1232 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 13°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 3000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 16 knots/ 23 knots, 120°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.01 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Kingsville, TX (NQI)
Destination: Dallas, TX

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: On-Ground
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 27.503889, -97.812222 

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Naval Air Station Kingsville Fire and Emergency Services personnel spray foam onto the wreckage of a civilian-owned and operated North American SNJ-5 (AT-6D) Texan, N12377, that crashed shortly after takeoff from the air station April 25, 2018. Both the pilot and passenger were killed in the crash.

Steve DeWolf’s passion for aviation is just a part of what makes him such an interesting neighbor. (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

Charles Skoda was one of two men killed when the privately owned airplane they were in crashed shortly after takeoff from NAS Kingsville. Missouri State Senator Doug Libla said that Skoda was a former Navy fighter pilot and government relations employee.  “He was widely known and a friend to many in the Missouri State Capitol for several years,” said Libla.


UPDATE: Forest Hills neighbor Steve DeWolf died April 25, 2018, in a plane crash, according to his wife, Tammy DeWolf. The civil lawyer, wind energy pioneer and author was flying his T-6 Texan, one of two World War 2-era planes that he owned. He and a passenger died when the plane crashed at Naval Air Station Kingsville shortly after takeoff Wednesday at about 12:30 p.m., according to the Caller Times. The story says the plane caught fire shortly after takeoff. In addition to his wife, DeWolf is survived by his son, Jake DeWolf. Memorial details are pending. This article about DeWolf appears in the May issue of the Lakewood/East Dallas Advocate, which went to press before news of his death.

When Steve DeWolf isn’t jogging through his Forest Hills neighborhood, he’s probably flying over it in one of his vintage planes.

The civil lawyer, author and wind energy pioneer owns a PT-17 Stearman that was built in 1943 and a T-6 Texan built in 1942. His father was a colonel in the Air Force, and DeWolf attended the United States Naval Academy, intent on flying carrier-based jets. But his vision wasn’t good enough. After graduation, he went to law school and earned a pilot’s license in 1985. After a girlfriend broke up with him in 1991, he says he thought, “F it, I’m just going to spend $80,000 and go buy an old open cockpit biplane.”

That was the Stearman. “I’ve loved it ever since,” he says.

DeWolf says he tries to fly his planes at least once a week. His home base is the Dallas Executive Airport, formerly Redbird Airport. “My dad said that you have to fly a lot to be safe. I tell my son, Jake, the same thing.”

Why planes from that era? “It goes back to my dad,” DeWolf says. “It’s very pure flying. It’s black or white. You can either fly the numbers or you can’t. Can you fly it in a certain direction, can you keep it stable, can you land well? In law, there’s gray and nuances.”

How does he feel when he’s up there? “Like a million bucks,” he says.

DeWolf has had close calls, including seeing lightning below him while flying over Seguin from the Rio Grande Valley and encountering fog so dense he was forced to fly according to the air traffic controller’s signals. Years ago, in the Stearman, an oil line broke. DeWolf was close to Lancaster and tried to land. People were saying, “You’re streaming oil.” He landed and had the shakes. “Some tall, thin guy who was in charge of the airport came out and said, ‘Well, I’d let you use the restroom, but I bet you done already used it.’

“Fortunately, I hadn’t.”

DeWolf’s law office on the 14th floor of a North Central Expressway building feels like working in the clouds. He sits at a long, cluttered table in a room surrounded by windows. The office is decorated with framed illustrations of him in court, a photo of him in his plane flying over opening day of the Rangers in 2014, a 1942 Saturday Evening Post cover of his father in uniform and his son’s Lego wind farm project.

Rocks collected from his travels hold down pages of law cases and maps of his wind farm projects. “A rock for everything I have to do,” he says. “I like rocks. Every time I go someplace, I get them.”

In the early 2000s, he was sitting on a beach and penning an editorial for The Dallas Morning News about the need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He thought about an in-law in Minnesota who was a progressive farmer researching windmills.

“I thought, ‘Texas… we have a lot of land, we ought to be able to do that.’ I had no idea what I was doing.” He went to TXU Energy and said, “I’d like to build a wind farm.” He asked his wife, Tammy, to give him $25,000 to learn the business. She was OK with it, so he went to West Texas A&M University and studied with the experts. He’s been investing in wind farms ever since.

He also wrote a book. “Dead Stick” is about a Texas civil trial lawyer, “a gritty street-wise” character investigating the death of his brother in Iraq. The main character is Jake, named after DeWolf’s son, and the book’s cover photo is DeWolf in his plane. “Dead Stick” is published by Stephen F. Austin University Press. A producer in Los Angeles has optioned the book to be a movie, and a writer in New York is working on the screenplay.

DeWolf is at work on a sequel. In addition, he writes “The Moderate Minute” column for the Mount Vernon Optic Herald in Franklin County, where he owns a lake house. He’s also on the board of the Cavanaugh Flight Museum.

In the meantime, son Jake is studying at Oklahoma State University, learning to be a commercial airline pilot.

“Flying is not without dangers, and flying these old planes? It’s more dangerous,” DeWolf says. “But crossing the street is dangerous. I do my best to make sure that the planes are well maintained. Like I told Jake, ‘You don’t fly into bad weather. You try and make good judgments.’ At some point, 10 to 15 years from now, I may say, ‘I think I’ve been flying long enough.”

Story, video, photo gallery ➤

Jake (left) and his father Steven DeWolf. Steven was killed when the airplane he was flying crashed shortly after takeoff from NAS Kingsville.

Two men killed in a plane crash at Naval Air Station Kingsville yesterday have been identified.

Steven DeWolf and Charles Skoda were killed yesterday when the North American SNJ-5 (AT-6D) Texan they were flying in crashed shortly after takeoff from the air station.

In a message sent to KRIS 6 News, DeWolf’s son Jake said “He’s the best damn father in the whole world. He died doing what he loved which was flying that Yellow T-6 Texan."

In an online statement, Missouri State Senator Doug Libla said that Skoda was a former Navy fighter pilot and government relations employee.

“He was widely known and a friend to many in the Missouri State Capitol for several years,” said Libla.

Original article can be found here ➤

Photo of aircraft involved in Naval Air Station-Kingsville crash. 
Photo date April 24, 2018

KINGSVILLE — Two people were killed when a civilian-owned plane crashed at Naval Air Station Kingsville shortly after takeoff Wednesday afternoon.

The North American SNJ-5 (AT-6D) Texan crashed just after 12:30 p.m., said Kevin Clarke, a public affairs officer for the base.

The plane caught fire and was put out by naval emergency personnel, Clarke said in a video posted on the naval base's Facebook page. 

The pilot and one passenger had been visiting an employee of the base and had just taken off when the mishap occurred, Clarke said. 

Officials of the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were on the way to conduct an investigation into the crash, Clarke said in the video.

The two people were taken to a nearby funeral home, he said in the video. 

Their identities were not released Wednesday, pending notification of family.

Clarke said no naval aviators were involved and there was no damage to the airfield’s runways or equipment. Naval Air Station Kingsville is one of 15 military installations in Texas, and is the workplace of 1,650 people.  About 200 flight students train there, along with roughly 150 flight instructors.

Original article can be found here ➤

A civilian owned and operated vintage warbird aircraft crashed shortly after 12:30 p.m. Wednesday near the lower gate of Naval Air Station-Kingsville.

The Kleberg County Sheriff's Department confirmed that the pilot and one passenger died in the crash. NAS officials said the pilot and one passenger had been visiting an employee on base. They had just taken off from the airfield when it the mishap occurred.

A witness told 3News that it looked like the pilot lost control and rolled backward in the direction of the hangars. They said they couldn't tell if it was a mechanical failure or the wind, which was pretty strong at the time, but they did hear what sounded like the pilot hitting the throttle before an explosion.

Training Air Wing 2 was sent to secure the scene. NAS officials said the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate as is standard procedure when plane crashes are involved.  NAS officials said no naval aviators were involved and there was no damage to the runways or equipment.

Story and video ➤

Two people were killed when a civilian-owned and operated vintage warbird aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Naval Air Station Kingsville.

According to the base, the pilot and one passenger had been visiting an employee of the base and had just taken off when the crash occurred at approximately 12:30 p.m.

The identities of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of the next of kin, base officials say.

The base says no Naval aviators were involved and there was no damage to the airfield runways or equipment. 

Story and video ➤

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