On April 4, 1999, at 2015 central daylight time, a Cessna 172M airplane, N8963V, was substantially damaged upon collision with powerlines while maneuvering near Midlothian, Texas. The non-instrument rated private pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, was not injured. The airplane was owned by Texsan Aviation Inc., of Gordonville, Texas, and operated by Howell Aircraft Services Inc., of Grand Prairie, Texas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the Title 14 CFR Part 91 flight for which a flight plan was not filed. The flight originated from the Grand Prairie Municipal Airport at approximately 1950.

The 80 hour pilot reported to FAA inspectors that the airplane collided with unmarked powerlines while maneuvering southeast of the Joe Pool Lake near Midlothian, Texas. The pilot added that following the collision with the powerlines he elected to return the airport where a landing was accomplished without further incident.

In the enclosed narrative portion of the NTSB Form 6120.1/2, the operator reported that, after his departure from Grand Prairie, the pilot encountered lowering ceilings while en route to the Midlothian Airport. The ceilings continued to drop to about 300 feet, when the pilot elected to execute a 180 degree turn and return to Grand Prairie. While in the vicinity of the southeast corner of the Joe Pool Lake, the pilot heard a loud pop and saw a bright flash of light. The engine initially sputtered, but then continued to run normally.

The private pilot completed another narrative in the presence of the two FAA inspectors. In the second narrative, the pilot states that he was following the railroad tracks southbound at a low altitude en route to the Midlothian Airport when he collided with the unmarked powerlines.

The location of the collision with the wires was located by the FAA inspectors with the assistance of the power company. The broken wire was found at the location where the railroad tracks make a shallow turn to the right. The powerline was suspended 28 feet above the tracks. Paint transfers on portions of the severed wire matched the color scheme of the wings. The damage to the right wing of the airplane's right wing matches the southbound right turn scenario described by the pilot.

The FAA inspector who evaluated the damage sustained by the airplane reported that the right wing and the right wing strut sustained structural damage. The propeller and propeller spinner were also damaged. The inspector added that evidence of electrical burns were found throughout the airframe.

Dusk light illumination prevailed at the time of the accident.

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