On October 3, 1997, at 1916 central daylight time, a North American Harvard MK IV, N13595, lead airplane in a formation flight of four, collided with a North American SNJ-5, N3195G, number two in the formation, during landing roll on runway 34L at the Midland International Airport, Midland, Texas. Both aircraft were registered to the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum, dba the Confederate Air Force. The North American SNJ-5 was being operated by the Confederate Air Force's Southern Minnesota Wing, of St. Paul, Minnesota, and the North American Harvard MK IV was being operated by the Confederate Air Force's Golden Gate Wing, of Oakland, California. Both aircraft were substantially damaged, and the pilot and passenger of each aircraft were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the Title 14 CFR Part 91 local formation flight. The formation flight of four North American "T-6" airplanes were on a photo mission that originated from the Midland International Airport, about 46 minutes before the accident. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot of the lead aircraft, N13595, reported in the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report that the flight had returned to the Midland International Airport for landing. During the landing roll on runway 34L, he intended to clear the runway to the left at taxiway Mike. He looked back to the left and turned the aircraft to the left slightly to check for the location of aircraft #2, N3195G. "Number-two appeared to be one hundred and fifty yards back and slowing (it appeared number-two's tail was down in three point attitude)." The pilot stated that the radio was congested, "but I thought I heard number-two was clear or is clear." As he proceeded to turn left to exit the runway, he looked back to reconfirm the position of aircraft #2 and "saw number-two was too close and coming fast." He added full power and made a right turn to the right side of the runway. The right wing of aircraft #2, N3195G, struck the vertical stabilizer of the lead aircraft, N13595.
The pilot of the lead aircraft, further reported in the Operator/Owner Safety Recommendation section of the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report, that this accident could have been prevented by rolling to the end of the runway to exit, and to keep the spacing between the other aircraft "at all costs."
A review of the Midland International air traffic control tower voice tape by the NTSB investigator-in-charge revealed that there was a radio transmission from an unidentified person requesting a "wind check." The air traffic controller replied, " wind zero six zero at four." Another unidentified person stated about the time the formation flight was landing, "land long....(unintelligible)."
The pilot of the #2 aircraft, N3195G, reported in the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report that the lead aircraft, N13595, had landed well down the runway on the right half, and he landed the #2 aircraft on the left half of the runway prior to the runway 10/28 intersection. "When lead's tail came down, I selected power to idle and my tail came down about 2-3 seconds later." During the landing roll he could "see about the right 2/3ds of lead's airplane by looking out the right side of my airplane," and the spacing and position "looked good." At one point the lead aircraft disappeared from his view and he "went hard on the brakes" and headed towards the left edge of the runway. When the lead aircraft came back into his view, the aircraft was centered on the left half of the runway facing about 60 degrees right of runway heading. "I could hear lead apply a whole bunch of power as he moved to my right, and my right wing then struck his tail." Both aircraft were taxied from the runway to parking.
The pilot of the #2 aircraft further reported in the Operator/Owner Safety Recommendation section of the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report that this accident could have been prevented "through adherence to standard operating procedures."
Examination of both aircraft by the FAA inspector revealed that the lead aircraft, N13595, had its vertical stabilizer and rudder sheared off at the empennage, and its left wing tip sustained damage. The #2 aircraft, N3195G, sustained damage to the right wing's leading edge and lower surface including the aileron.
According to the Confederate Air Force, they teach in their Formation Flight Safety Seminars, that during formation/staggered landings, the formation is to exit at the end of the runway. The only exception is when the landing is on a long runway, and the early exit is briefed. They also teach that there will be no passing of aircraft during the landing. If a pilot determines that he is going to pass an aircraft, he is to execute a go-around.