After The Collision… Both Airplanes Descended Intermingled To The Ground

Location: Weslaco, TX Accident Number: CEN21LA040
Date & Time: November 3, 2020, 17:54 Local Registration: N87715 (A1); N6463H (A2)
Aircraft: Piper J3C (A1); Piper J3C (A2) Injuries: 1 Minor (A1); 1 Serious (A2)
Flight Conducted Under:

On November 3, 2020, about 1754 central standard time, two Piper J3C-65 airplanes, N87715 and N6463H, were substantially damaged during a midair collision accident near Weslaco, Texas. The student pilot flying N87715 was not injured, and the airline transport pilot flying N6463H sustained serious injuries. Both airplanes were operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flights.

The pilot of N87715 reported that visual meteorological conditions prevailed during his local flight in the traffic pattern for runway 14 at Mid Valley Airport (TXW). He stated that on his third touch-and-go landing he made a normal wheel-landing and touched down about 1,000 ft from the approach end of the runway. After the tailwheel contacted the runway, he advanced the throttle to takeoff power and accelerated to liftoff speed. The pilot stated that the airplane became airborne about midfield and continued to climb over the runway. The pilot reported that the airplane’s ground track drifted to the right (west) while his attention was diverted to the cockpit instruments, and that his airplane collided with another airplane about 80 ft above the ground. The pilot reported that after the collision, he was unable to maintain control of the airplane and that both airplanes descended intermingled to the ground. The crash site was in a grass area located about 110 ft off the right side of runway 14.

The pilot of N6463H reported that he was operating in the airport traffic pattern for runway 14 with two other airplanes. He stated that after turning from base leg to the final approach he realized that his airplane was too close to the airplane ahead of him in the traffic pattern. The pilot decided to go-around and side-step to the right of runway 14 to ensure separation from the other airplane that had landed. The pilot reported that he maintained visual contact with the other airplane, keeping it at his 9-10 0’clock position and slightly below his position as he continued his go-around. The pilot stated that shortly after he shifted his gaze to the right side of his airplane, to assess if there were any additional impediments to his flight path, the other airplane “made an apparent right turn” and collided with his airplane. The pilot was unable to maintain control of his airplane and it descended to the ground intermingled with the other airplane.