On May 21, 1994, at 1515 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-235, N8895W, was destroyed during initial takeoff climb from a private airstrip near Wingate, Texas. The commercial pilot and one of the passengers were fatally injured, while one passenger suffered serious injuries, and another one was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight.

According to the property owner, a fly-in luncheon was sponsored by a local area flying club at his private airstrip, with seven airplanes attending the gathering. All flying participants departed from runway 17 within a 30 minute interval, with N8895W being the last airplane to depart. The wind was reported as variable from 140 to 150 degrees at 8 to 10 knots.

Witnesses observed the airplane break ground at about the same point were the previous six airplanes became airborne. Witnesses further stated that the airplane appeared to drift over the mesquite trees on the west side of the strip. The airplane was about 6 to 8 feet above the trees when the right wing gradually dropped into a shallow bank until the wing tip collided with a row of trees. After initial impact, the airplane nosed over, coming to rest amidst the trees on the west side of the airstrip.


The pilot had operated in and out of the airstrip on three previous occasions. The pilot's son and his wife were standing at the departure end of the airstrip to take photographs of the departing aircraft.


The airplane was purchased by the Big Spring Flying Club in May 1988. The airplane was topped off with fuel prior to its departure from Big Spring, Texas, on the morning of the accident.

According to the aircraft pilot's operating manual, a takeoff roll of 935 feet was required based on the conditions and aircraft configuration at the time of the accident. Runway 21 was 2100 feet long.

A review of the airframe and engine records by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, did not reveal any anomalies or uncorrected maintenance defects prior to the flight.


Several tree trunks and branches in the path of the airplane exhibited slash marks and paint transfers on a measured heading of 181 degrees. The wing flaps were found in the retracted position. The airplane came to rest on its right side on a measured heading of 045 degrees. Total distance from initial tree damage to the main wreckage was 173 feet.

Examination of the airplane established control continuity and no mechanical problems with the engine.


An autopsy and toxicological tests were ordered and performed. The autopsy was performed by the Southwest Institute of Forensic Sciences at Dallas, Texas, by Joni L. McClain, M.D., on May 23, 1994. Toxicological tests were negative.


The wreckage was released to the owner's representative at the accident site.

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