It’s a scenario everyone’s thought about at some time during a flight. What if something happened during landing? For the pilot of a small aircraft in Texas, that horrible scenario came true as they speared off the end of a runway into a public road, finally coming to rest when it hit a passing automobile. Any pilot will tell you that’s way too much excitement for a quiet weekend flight. Thankfully, everyone ended up okay.
The plane in question was a Lancair IV-P Propjet, flying out of Aero Country Airport in North Texas. The single-engined turboprop aircraft came to grief as it attempted a landing on runway 17.
According to preliminary reports from city officials speaking to WFAA, the pilot was unable to stop the plane as it began to run out of space on the 4,352-foot runway. When the tarmac ran out, the plane smashed through a fence and collided with a Hyundai Sonata passing eastbound on Virginia Parkway.
The incident was captured by pilot and aerospace engineer Jack Schneider, who was loading up his own jet on a trailer nearby. Schneider’s video shows the plane busting through the chainlink fence at the end of the runway, before careening into the driver’s side fender of the Sonata.
Footage taken after the crash shows the plane seriously damaged with the propeller taking a particularly hard hit. Fluid can be seen on the ground at the crash site, and the Sonata itself has significant damage to the front end. WFAA indicates that the pilot and occupant of the plane, along with the driver of the Sonata, were treated for minor injuries. FlightAware tracking data indicates the plane had departed Midland Airpark at 11:14 AM local time, transiting to Aero Country over an hour and fifteen minutes.
Reports from witnesses on the ground speaking to WFAA say that the pilot claimed the plane’s reverse thrust system had failed, meaning he could not achieve the landing by the end of the runway. It was allegedly his first time landing at the Aero Country airport. Unconfirmed reports shared on Aviation Safety.net indicate the pilot was executing an emergency landing after the plane had pressurization issues shortly after reaching FL250. A rapid descent followed, with the plane continuing to its ultimate destination at Aero Country Airport. One go-around was attempted, before the pilot landed on the second attempt, striking the Sonata in the process.
Ultimately, we won’t learn the full chain of events until the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) completes its investigation. For now, it’s worth considering the wise words of one Chuck Yeagar. “If you can walk away from a landing, it’s a good landing. If you use the airplane the next day, it’s an outstanding landing.”