On May 24, 2000, at 1326 central daylight time, a Cecil Thorp T-18 amateur built airplane, N856CW, was destroyed when it impacted terrain following a loss of control near West, Texas. The private pilot, who was the registered owner and operator of the airplane, sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight, for which no flight plan was filed. The cross-country flight originated from the Fort Worth Spinks Airport, Fort Worth, Texas, approximately 1200, and was destined for the Victoria Regional Airport, Victoria, Texas.

According to personnel at the Spinks Airport the airplane's fuel tank was topped off with 6 gallons of 100LL fuel prior to departure.

Radar data, provided by the Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center, revealed an aircraft with a 1200 beacon code flying in the accident area at 1325. The radar data revealed that the aircraft was initially on a southbound heading at an altitude approximately 5,000 feet msl. The aircraft entered a descent, and while descending through 2,300 feet, made a left turn to a northbound heading. Subsequently, the aircraft ascended to approximately 4,000 feet and the radar returns disappeared northeast of Waco, Texas.

After searching for 8 days, on June 1, 2000, the Civil Air Patrol located the wreckage in a field approximately 10 miles northeast of Waco, Texas, at north 31 degrees 44.40 minutes latitude and west 097 degrees 01.20 minutes longitude. The airframe was contained around and within a crater measuring approximately 10 feet in depth. Both wings (which exhibited compression from the leading edge aft), the horizontal stabilizer, and vertical stabilizer were identified at the accident site. Flight control continuity was not established as a result of the extensive damage to airframe. Aircraft recovery personnel excavated the crater to a total depth of 12 feet and the engine was not located.

According to an NTSB Meteorology Factual Report, on May 24, 2000, at 1253, the weather observation facility at the Waco Regional Airport, Waco, Texas, (located 12.4 miles southwest of the accident site) reported clear skies, visibility 10 miles, winds from 180 degrees at 16 knots, temperature 92 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 74 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 29.69 inches of mercury. Satellite data revealed that the accident area was clear of clouds. Airmet Tango 2 was current for the accident area that cautioned of occasional turbulence below 6,000 feet. No convective activity or thunderstorms were noted in the state of Texas near the time of the accident.

An autopsy was performed by the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences, Dallas, Texas. Assessment of natural disease was precluded by extensive injuries and decomposition. Toxicological testing performed by the Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma, City, Oklahoma, was negative for alcohol and drugs.

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