Wednesday, April 25, 2018

North American SNJ-5 (AT-6D) Texan, N12377: 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 Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Kingsville, TX
Accident Number: CEN18FA147
Date & Time: 04/25/2018, 1225 CDT
Registration: N12377
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Aerodynamic stall/spin
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On April 25, 2018, about 1225 central daylight time, a North American SNJ 5 airplane, N12377, was destroyed when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from Kingsville Naval Air Station (NQI), Kingsville, Texas. The private pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and was being operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was originating at the time of the accident with an intended destination of San Marcos Regional Airport (HYI), San Marcos, Texas.

Air traffic control tower personnel reported that the airplane took off on runway 13R and had requested a right teardrop turn for a departure toward the north. Several witnesses reported seeing the airplane in a steep right bank; some witnesses reporting that the bank angle exceeded 90° and the maximum altitude achieved was 200-300 ft above ground level. The airplane descended nose low and the right bank angle decreased before the airplane impacted the ground between runway 17R/35L and taxiway B just south of the intersection of taxiways B and E (Figure 1.).

Figure 1. Airport diagram showing the layout of Kingsville NAS

Review of radar data showed that the airplane began its takeoff roll from runway 13R at 1224:01. The accident flight was captured in 11 radar returns, with the final return at 1224:52. No altitude data was recorded. The airplane's ground track continued along the runway centerline from the takeoff position for about 2,000 ft before making a slight left turn followed by a right turn. The right turn continued to the end of the data and the final recorded position was about 100 ft east of the initial impact point.Based on the final 3 recorded radar returns, the turn radius was estimated to be about 450 ft and the calculated average groundspeed was 87 mph. Based on this information, the calculated bank angle was about 56° during the final portion of the flight. For a level, 56°-banking turn, the calculated flight load factor was 1.8g. Based on the velocity versus load factor (V-N) diagram for the accident airplane, a load factor of 1.8g equated to an accelerated stall speed about 95 mph. The airplane's ground track is depicted in Figure2.

Figure 2. Overhead view of the airplane's ground track

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 64, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/17/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 3000 hours (Total, all aircraft)

Pilot-Rated Passenger Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Commercial
Age: 50, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Rear
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/18/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 
Flight Time: 5000 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

The pilot, age 64, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued on April 17, 2018, with a limitation for corrective lenses. On the application for that medical certificate, the pilot reported 3,000 total hours of flight experience, with 40 hours in the previous 6 months. The pilot's flight logbook was not available for review.

The passenger, age 50, held an airline transport pilot certificate with airplane multiengine land and airplane single-engine land ratings. The single-engine rating was limited to commercial pilot privileges. Military records indicated that he had accumulated at least 2,400 hours of flight experience before his discharge from the military. No civilian flight records were reviewed; however, the pilot reported 5,000 total hours of flight experience on the application for his most recent FAA first-class medical certificate, dated July 20, 2017. The medical certificate listed no limitations.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N12377
Model/Series: SNJ 5
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 85086
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 11/20/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 5300 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 7718 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt & Whitney
Engine Model/Series: R-1340-AN-1
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 600 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

The airplane, serial number 85086, was a single-engine monoplane used to train military pilots during World War II and into the 1970s. It was equipped with retractable conventional (tailwheel) landing gear and tandem seating for two occupants. The airplane was powered by a 600-horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1 radial reciprocating engine, which drove a 2-blade, constant-speed Hamilton Standard 12D40-6101-12 propeller.

Maintenance records indicated that the most recent annual inspection was completed on November 20, 2017, at an airframe total time of 7,717.7 hours. According to the entry, the engine had accumulated 414.7 hours since its most recent overhaul.

Registration information indicated that the pilot had owned the airplane since 2007. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: NQI, 50 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1232 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 0°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 3000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 16 knots / 23 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 120°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.01 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 13°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Kingsville, TX (NQI)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Austin, TX (HYI)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 1224 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class D 

At 1232, the weather conditions recorded at NQI included wind from 120° at 16 knots gusting to 23 knots, 10 miles visibility, few clouds at 3,000 ft above ground level (agl), temperature 31°C, dew point 13°C, and an altimeter setting of 30.01 inches of mercury. 

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Concrete
Airport Elevation: 50 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 13R
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 8000 ft / 200 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
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

The initial impact point was in a grass area about 1,200 ft right of the runway 13R centerline and about 3,500 ft from its approach end. Most of the wreckage came to rest on the ramp near taxiway E. The debris path was oriented in a westerly direction with the first impact mark about 20 ft from the east edge of the paved ramp area.

The engine separated from the fuselage and the supercharger section of the engine separated from the cylinder section. The propeller remained attached to the engine with one blade intact, displaying evidence of chordwise scratching on the cambered side and twisting of the outboard portion of the blade toward low pitch. The other blade was missing the outboard 2 ft, which came to rest near the ground scar. There was a propeller slash in the dirt and the broken section of the blade displayed leading edge gouging, chordwise scratching, and bending.

Both wings separated upon impact. The right wing came to rest at the east edge of taxiway B. The fuselage came to rest on its right side about 30 ft west of the right wing. The left wing came to rest about 100 ft further west.

The wing was composed of 3 sections; a center section and 2 outboard wing panels. The right wing and a portion of the center section came to rest upright between the initial impact point and the fuselage. The right portion of the wing center section was crushed and twisted and remained attached to the outboard right wing panel. The outboard portion of the wing panel displayed fire damage and upward bending of the portion outboard of the wing joint. The flap remained attached to the outboard portion of the wing. The inboard portion of the right aileron remained attached to the wing.

The left wing separated at the joint and came to rest upright. The aileron was separated, but the inboard portion was found between the fuselage and left wing. The flap remained attached. The left wing was predominately intact. There was aft, angular crushing damage to the wing tip from the tip to about 3 ft inboard. The leading edge inboard of this damage was intact and showed little deformation.

The fuselage was mostly intact. The steel tube fuselage structure at the firewall was bent aft with more significant bending of the right side of the firewall. The firewall crush angle was indicative of about a 30° right-wing-low impact. The left horizontal stabilizer, elevator, vertical stabilizer, and rudder remained attached. The right horizontal stabilizer and elevator remained attached and were bent upward about 90°.

Flight control continuity was established from the forward cockpit rudder pedals aft to the rudder. The left pushrod connecting the forward and aft cockpit rudder pedals were intact but bent about mid-length. The right rudder interconnect pushrod was broken in two; the forward and aft portions remained attached to their respective rudder pedals. Elevator control continuity was established for the complete cable circuit from the elevator forward to the forward control stick bellcrank, then forward around the firewall-mounted pulley and aft to the elevator. Pulling on the rudder and elevator cables resulted in corresponding movement of the respective surfaces. The aileron control bellcrank remained attached and intact on the torque tube with the aileron control cables still attached to the bellcrank. One cable was about 3 ft long, and the other was about 6 inches long to their respective separation points. Both separations were consistent with overload failure. Aileron control cable continuity within the wings was established through several breaks consistent with overload failure.

The forward cockpit control stick casting was fractured from the torque tube and the stick was fractured from its mount. 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.

The right landing gear remained attached to the wing. The left landing gear was broken loose and came to rest between the fuselage and the left wing.

Examination of the airplane did not reveal any evidence of preimpact mechanical failures or anomalies.

Medical And Pathological Information


On his medical certificate application, the pilot reported his use of tamsulosin to treat benign prostate hypertrophy and allopurinol for gout. These medications are generally not considered to be impairing. The pilot reported no other medical conditions or medications.

The Nueces County Medical Examiner, Corpus Christi, Texas, performed an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death was blunt force trauma. The pilot had moderate to severe coronary artery disease with up to 60% narrowing of the right coronary and 70% narrowing of the left coronary artery. No other significant natural disease was identified.

National Medical Services Laboratory (NMS Labs) testing of cavity blood conducted as part of the autopsy was negative for alcohol and carbon monoxide. Testing detected diphenhydramine at 160 ng/ml; pseudoephedrine at 120 ng/ml, and its metabolite, norpseudoephedrine, at 12 ng/ml; and caffeine.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens of the pilot. Diphenhydramine was detected in urine and at 156 ng/ml in cavity blood; pseudoephedrine was detected in blood and urine; and tamsulosin was detected in cavity blood and urine.

Pseudoephedrine, caffeine, and tamsulosin are generally not considered to be impairing. Diphenhydramine is a sedating antihistamine used to treat allergy symptoms and as a sleep aid. It is available over the counter under the trade names Benadryl and Unisom. The therapeutic range for diphenhydramine is 25.0 to 112.0 ng/ml. Blood concentrations following a single dose of 50 mg diphenhydramine in 10 healthy adults produced an average peak plasma concentration of 66 ng/ml at 2.3 hours. Further, in a driving simulator study, a single 50 mg dose of diphenhydramine impaired driving ability more than a blood alcohol concentration of 0.100%. Diphenhydramine carries the FDA warning, "may impair mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks (e.g., driving, operating heavy machinery)." Compared to other antihistamines, diphenhydramine causes marked sedation; this is the rationale for its use as a sleep aid. Altered mood and impaired cognitive and psychomotor performance may also be observed.

Diphenhydramine undergoes postmortem redistribution where, after death, the drug can leach from storage sites back into blood. Central postmortem blood levels may be about two to three times higher than peripheral levels.

Pilot-Rated Passenger

The pilot-rated passenger reported no medications and had no significant medical conditions during his most recent FAA medical examination.

The Nueces County Medical Examiner's autopsy documented the cause of death as multiple crush injuries. The passenger had moderate coronary artery disease with up to 50% narrowing of the right coronary, 40% narrowing of the left coronary, and 30% narrowing of the circumflex coronary arteries. No other significant natural disease was identified.

NMS Labs forensic toxicology testing of femoral blood conducted as part of the autopsy was negative for alcohol, carbon monoxide, and tested-for drugs.

FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory toxicology testing detected no carbon monoxide in femoral blood, no ethanol in vitreous, and no tested-for-drugs in urine.

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 ➤