On October 5, 1997, about 1115 eastern daylight time, a Boeing Stearman PT-17, N49760, and a Cessna 182A, N4941D, were substantially damaged when the Stearman collided with the Cessna, during takeoff roll at the Raintree Airpark, Elkton, Maryland. The certificated airline transport pilot and passenger in the Stearman, and the certificated commercial pilot and two passengers in the Cessna were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for either flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The accident occurred on runway 31 at the Raintree Airpark. The runway was 2,635 feet long, 80 feet wide, and was turf. The taxiway that lead to the runway was also turf, and blended into the runway. The taxiway was sloped downward to the runway, and joined the runway on an approximate heading of 160 to 170 degrees. In order to taxi to the approach end of runway 31, pilots were required to back taxi on the runway.
The pilot of the Cessna wrote that he stopped short of the runway while on the taxiway. He further stated:
"...I observed the Stearman stopped in run-up area at the approach end of RWY 31. After about one minute I announced my intention to back-taxi on RWY 31, and waited at least 20 seconds. I then moved forward 1 to 2 feet and stopped short of RWY 31 after observing the Stearman apply full power. The Stearman crossed the centerline of 31 and straightened out his takeoff roll to the right of center by several feet and continued to drift to the right. The Stearman crossed the right hand runway boundary...The Stearman struck 4941D on the taxi-way..."
The pilot of the Stearman stated that prior to departure, he performed a run-up at the approach end of runway 31. He also stated that the Stearman was not equipped with a radio, and he observed one airplane on a base to final for runway 31, and another airplane entering the downwind. In his written statement the pilot further stated:
"...after the aircraft on final landed, I taxied into position and held until that aircraft was observed taxing clear of the runway. No aircraft were observed from the left or right side of the nose of my aircraft and takeoff roll was started. As the tail was raised and the nose lowered a C182 was taxiing on runway in front of us. Contact was made with 182..."
The passenger of the Stearman stated that they had taxied to the run-up area and performed a run-up while waiting for a Cessna 152 to land. After the Cessna landed, the pilot of the Stearman taxied onto the runway and held in position while waiting for the Cessna 152 to clear the runway. After the Cessna cleared the runway, the pilot "announced it was clear to the right." The passenger further stated:
"...I could see the runway was clear when we started our takeoff roll. As the tailwheel lifted, there was a collision with another aircraft that had pulled onto the runway..."
Several witnesses provided statements. One witness was a member of the parachute club that operated the Cessna. He had a hand held radio and was there to videotape the Cessna, which contained skydivers. This witness stated that he had positioned himself on a hill near the taxiway. He observed the Stearman at the end of the runway. He stated that the Cessna "...began moving out of the staging area and down the hill. I heard the pilot of the 41 Delta [Cessna] announce over the UNICOM his intentions to back taxi."
The witness with the video camera observed the Cessna stop short of the runway. The witness then decided to relocate himself behind the Cessna for "a good shot." He further stated:
"...there is a 3 second delay prior to actual recording on this camera I was using. I noticed that the Stearman was extremely far to the right of the runway centerline for takeoff as it came into view. The Stearman continued on takeoff roll as I panned in for the shot taking note that it was coming further over the right...The Stearman's tail came up and continued straight over towards the right...The Stearman then struck 41 Delta [Cessna] in the front with its right wings and propeller. The 41 Delta aircraft at time of impact was stationary and in the same position...standing at the taxiway by the landing light."
A second witness stated he was about 200 feet from the intersection of the runway and taxiway that was occupied by the Cessna. He stated that the Stearman was at the end of the runway in the process of the takeoff roll. He further stated:
"...I observed the Cessna had taxied to about 50% on the runway past the runway marker lights and was facing in the direction of the Stearman. As the Stearman accelerated to about flying speed, it's right wings made contact with the propeller of the Cessna...When using the same runway (#31) at Raintree Airpark with my Stearman, I do not proceed to the takeoff position if there is another aircraft there. I hold clear of the runway..."
A third witness stated that he was about 75 feet from the red runway light and approximately 30 feet from the edge of the runway. This witness stated:
"...I saw the Stearman on takeoff roll approximately one-third of the way down the runway, when a Cessna 182 started moving onto the runway facing the Stearman at a 45 degree angle...because the Cessna was moving on the runway, the two planes made contact approximately 35 - 40 feet in front of the runway light..."
A fourth witness observed the Stearman finish its run-up at the end of runway 31. He stated:
"The Stearman held for a landing Cessna 150. The 182 was moving down the taxiway toward the runway. The 182 stopped short of the runway - Then began moving again. By that time the Stearman was on takeoff roll...The right wing of the Stearman hit the right wing of the 182."
A fifth witness stated:
"...The Cessna sat there for a few minutes and then started to slowly descend the incline towards the runway entrance. The Cessna continued to descend and ended up stopped partially on the runway..."
A sixth witness reported that he observed the Stearman begin its takeoff roll. He stated:
"...the 182 appeared to be holding on the taxiway at the edge of the runway. As the Stearman approached the taxiway on takeoff, I could see the 182 was very close [to] the runway, if not partially on the runway. The right wing of the Stearman hit the right wing of the 182..."
A seventh witnesses, who had just landed at the airport stated:
"...As I taxied, I observed a Stearman departing on runway 31. I also observed a Cessna 182 taxing down to the runway for takeoff. The Cessna paused momentarily, as if checking for traffic on 31, and then proceed out onto the runway to back taxi for takeoff. The airplanes collided on the runway..."
The accident was reported to the NTSB Regional Office by the owner of the Stearman on October 8, 1997. A witness reported in his written statement that after the accident, "...the aircraft and debris were cleared and put out of sight within ten minutes, then the fly-in activities continued." He further stated that the "airport owner" had informed them that, "...this incident did not have to be reported to the FAA because there was no injury, fire, or blood loss."
A video recording of the accident was provided by the member of the parachute club. The video captured the collision, and contained a narration by the person recording the events. The camera operator recorded a brown grassless strip on the runway, and stated that it was the center of the runway. The video of the collision started about 1 to 2 seconds prior to the impact.
The videotape was reviewed several times by the Safety Board Investigator. The review did not depict any taxiway or runway hold signs, or hold short lines on the turf taxiway. The videotape revealed that the wings of the Stearman and the Cessna were casting shadows on the ground that appeared to be directly below their respective wings.
The first frame of the video depicting the Stearman during the takeoff roll, revealed that the main landing wheels of the Stearman were on the runway, between a runway light on the right side of runway 31, and the dirt strip in the center of the runway. The left wing tip of the Stearman appeared to be casting a shadow onto the runway, touching the center runway dirt strip. During subsequent frames, the Stearman appeared to maintain a track parallel to the runway center, with its main landing wheels on runway 31.
The first frame of the video depicting the Cessna revealed that it was in the vicinity of the taxiway and runway, with the nose of the airplane pointed about 160 to 170 degrees magnetic.
A review of the collision, and the post accident examination of the impact damage to both airplanes on the video tape, revealed that the initial impacts appeared to be at the right wing tips of the Stearman in the vicinity of the propeller hub of the Cessna. As the collision continued, the propeller hub of the Stearman struck the wing tip of the Cessna.
The video recording further revealed ground impressions on the turf runway that curved to right, after the vicinity of the collision. The impressions continued to the right off the runway, towards a point northwest of the taxiway where the collision occurred. The video revealed that the point where the impressions departed the runway, a runway light had been struck, and was bent away from the runway. The ground impressions continued to the area where the Stearman had come to rest, on a grass slope, between the runway and another parallel taxiway, northwest of the converging taxiway to the runway.
Specifications of both airplanes were reviewed. The Stearman had a wing span of 32 feet 2 inches, and the Cessna had a wing span of 36 feet.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published an Advisory Circular (AC) 90-42F. In paragraph 5b., it stated:
"There is no substitute for awareness while in the vicinity of an airport. It is essential that pilots remain alert and look for other traffic and exchange traffic information when approaching or departing an airport without the service of an operating control tower. This is of particular importance since other aircraft may not have communication capability or, in some cases, pilots may not communicate their presence or intentions when operating into or out of such airports..."
Another AC, 90-48C, stated in paragraph 4c:
"Prior to taxiing onto a runway or landing area for takeoff, scan the approach areas for possible landing traffic by maneuvering the aircraft to provide a clear view of such areas. It is important that this be accomplished even though a taxi or takeoff clearance has been received."
A review of 14 CFR Part 91, General Operating and Flight Rules, revealed that 91.111 stated, "No person may operate an aircraft so close to another aircraft as to create a collision hazard."