FTW98LA265
FTW98LA265

On June 13, 1998, at 1450 central daylight time, a Piper J3 tailwheel equipped airplane, N42559, was substantially damaged following a loss of control while landing near Midland, Texas. The instrument rated commercial pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the Title 14 CFR Part 91 local flight for which a flight plan was not filed. The personal flight originated from the Midland International Airport (MAF), near Midland, Texas, at 1435.

A flight instructor/FAA designated pilot examiner, who was taxiing for departure from runway 16, observed the accident sequence from the cockpit of his airplane. The witness observed the airplane execute a "nice wheel landing on the centerline" of runway 16. The witness stated that after all 3 wheels were on the ground, the airplane started drifting to the left of the centerline. He reported that the left main wheel went off the pavement once and the pilot managed to recover the airplane back toward the center of the runway.

The witness then observed a re-occurrence of the first incident, with the exception that this time the left gear tire drifted further from the edge of the runway. He then observed the right wing starting to rise, as he heard the sound of the engine revving to full power. The witness stated that he looked back at the windsock to look for an explanation of what he was witnessing. He noticed that "the winds had suddenly shifted from a quartering headwind, to a gusting quartering tailwind."

The witness added that the pilot managed to get the airplane off the ground and maintained flight just above the stall. The airplane cleared the airport's perimeter fence and a road; however, the left wing of the airplane impacted a power line pole on the west side of the highway, separating the left wing from the airframe. The 1945 vintage airplane came to rest in the upright position on a northerly heading, approximately 488 feet from the edge of the runway.

The witness further stated that hangars and buildings located along the west side of the runway, have resulted in minor mishaps due to the disturbance created when the winds are from the west. The winds at the Midland International Airport, located 9 nautical miles to the northwest (310 degrees) were reported from 230 degrees at 11 knots. In the enclosed NTSB Form 6120.1/2, the pilot reported that he estimated the winds to be from the southwest at 15 knots, gusting to 20 knots.

The airport manager stated that crosswind runway 24, a freshly resurfaced 2,800 foot dirt runway, was available to the pilot. The witness concurred that the runway is very smooth; however, he added that runway 24 is presently extremely dusty due to the present drought conditions.

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