On March 28, 2004, approximately 2045 central standard time, a Murphy J L Glasair III single-engine experimental airplane, N119JM, was substantially damaged during an aborted landing on Runway 35 at the Parker County Airport (WEA), near Weatherford, Texas. The private pilot and passenger received minor injuries. The airplane, registered to and operated by the pilot, was operating under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the personal flight that originated at Cleburne Municipal Airport (F18), near Cleburne, Texas, about 2030. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot stated that he had purchased the airplane two weeks prior to the accident. On the day before the accident, he made several takeoffs and landings at night at McKinney Municipal Airport, McKinney, Texas, where the airplane was based.
On the day of the accident, the pilot flew to Parker County Airport and picked up a friend. He landed on Runway 35, and used the threshold markings as his touchdown point. He and his passenger departed, and flew in the local area before landing at Cleburne Municipal Airport. The pilot then conducted short local flights with different passengers, before returning to Parker County Airport to drop off his friend.
The pilot stated that as he approached Parker County Airport, he reported his position and intentions over the UNICOM frequency and circled the airport two times before entering a left-hand traffic pattern for Runway 35. He decided to use Runway 35 based on wind conditions at Cleburne, which were out of the north. Though he did not know the wind velocity, he recalled that they were steady and not gusty.
The pilot had never landed at Parker County Airport at night and he had reviewed published airport information prior to the flight. He knew the runway was short, so he used the first set of runway lights as his touchdown point, since he could not see the threshold markings. He stated that he landed just beyond the first runway lights, made a firm landing, and applied normal braking. As the airplane continued down the runway, he did not realize he was in "trouble" until he saw a "dim" red light approximately 45 degrees to the front right side of the airplane. He realized he was near the end of the runway and was concerned about a deep embankment off the end of the runway, so he added full power and tried to take off. The airplane got airborne but immediately began to sink. It landed flat on the opposite side of the embankment and skidded across Interstate 20 before it came to rest. Approximately 10 to 15 minutes later, a small electrical fire started in the cabin of the airplane, but was immediately extinguished by rescue personnel.
The pilot returned to the airport a week following the accident and stood at the north end of the runway. During that time, he noted a vehicle driving on the taxiway and park adjacent to the runway. Shortly after, all of the runway lights extinguished then re-illuminated a few minutes later. The pilot drove over to the taxiway where he observed a man changing/replacing runway light bulbs that had extinguished along the approach end of Runway 35. When the pilot approached the man, he was told that he was trespassing on private property and to leave immediately. The pilot left the airport only to return 30 minutes later, where he walked the entire length of the runway. He said, "I noticed a gap in the distance between the north five pairs of lights and the rest of the south end of the lights. I also identified four light fixtures that were absent of bulbs at the approach end of the runway 35. Many of the fixtures did not have protective coverings for the household incandescent bulbs which were used for the source of lighting. Several of the uncovered bulbs had no dust or water marks indicating they had been recently replaced."
The pilot said that he probably landed mid-field because the runway lights at the north end of the runway were not illuminated, which resulted in him not having sufficient runway length to stop. He said, "If all the runway lights were illuminated the week before, this accident would not have happened."
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector performed an examination of the runway lighting and talked with individuals who were based at the airport. According to the inspector, these individuals reported that it was not uncommon for numerous runway lights to be out of service at any one given time.
A review of published airport information revealed that Runway 17/35 was equipped with non-standard low intensity runway lighting. Parker County Airport was privately owned and was not federally funded.