Northwest Regional Airport (Texas)
|Northwest Regional Airport|
|Airport type||Public Use (Private Ownership)|
|Operator||Texas Air Classics|
|Elevation AMSL||643 ft / 196 m|
The airport is used solely for general aviation purposes. There is a landing fee for non-based aircraft and non-based flight school aircraft must obtain written prior permission.
Aero Valley Airport[N 1] was founded by pioneering aviator Edna Gardner Whyte in 1970 following the death of her husband George Whyte. She first flew in 1926 while serving in the United States Navy Nurse Corps. She became a licensed pilot in 1928, and quit her job as a nurse in 1935 to open the New Orleans Air College. She later instructed USAAF and U.S. Navy pilots at Meacham Field during World War II before marrying Mr. Whyte in 1946 and operating Aero Enterprise Flight School with him. Mrs. Whyte won 127 trophies in cross-country air racing, aerobatic competition and other flight contests, served as President of the Ninety-Nines, and was the first female inductee to the Order of Daedalians. After losing her pilot's license following an in-flight heart attack in a Cessna 150 she was piloting on December 12, 1988, Ms. Whyte sold the runway and taxiways at Northwest Regional, but retained ownership of most remaining airport facilities. Ms. Whyte died on February 16, 1992, having lived at the airport until her death.
Facilities and aircraft
Northwest Regional contains one asphalt runway: 17/35 measuring 3,500 x 40 ft (1,067 x 12 m) with an estimated 0.1% gradient.
For the 12-month period ending March 5, 2009, the airport had 165,710 aircraft operations, an average of 454 per day: 66% local general aviation, 33% transient general aviation, and <1% air taxi. At that time there were 616 aircraft based at this airport: 89% single-engine, 10% multi-engine, and 1% helicopter.
Accidents and incidents
The following occurred at the airfield itself, immediately after takeoff, during the final landing approach, and/or during an attempted go-around:
- April 27, 1982: A Beech B23 Musketeer, registration number N6502T, sharply pitches upwards, stalls, and enters a spin immediately after takeoff from Runway 17 at Aero Valley; the ensuing crash kills both pilots and destroys the airplane. The post-crash investigation reveals that the left-hand seat was not securely locked in place, and uncovers evidence that the seat traveled to the extreme aft position prior to the crash, likely causing the student pilot to inadvertently pull up and thus provoke the stall. Examination of the wreckage reveals that the seat locking mechanism could be operated normally. The accident report cites the pilot's "improper" preflight inspection as a primary cause, as the unlocked seat evidently went unnoticed.
- June 20, 1982: Immediately following a low-altitude, high-speed pass at Aero Valley, the right-hand winglet of a homebuilt Rutan VariEze, registration number N111CH, separates from the wing; the airplane subsequently rolls inverted and crashes. The pilot is killed and the passenger suffers serious injuries. The accident is attributed to improper construction of the winglet, which is estimated by the designer to have had less than 1/20 of its design strength. The accident report notes the existence of additional unspecified deviations from the designer's plans.
- May 15, 2008: 2 pilots in a Piper PA-28-161 Cherokee, registration number N8295X, attempt to land on Runway 35 at Northwest Regional at the same time that the pilot of a Stinson 108-3, registration number N6805M, initiates a takeoff run. The 2 airplanes collide and come to rest upright with the Piper atop the Stinson. All 3 pilots are able to exit unassisted, suffering minor or no injuries. The pilot of each airplane reports that they had transmitted their position/intentions on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF). In addition, the pilots reported not seeing the other airplane before the collision occurred. The runway's threshold was displaced 320 feet (98 m) due to trees, which were approximately 50 feet (15 m) tall, located just south and along the approach path. The pilot of each airplane reports that the trees contributed to the accident. As noted in the accident report, visual flight rules state that "Aircraft, while on final approach to land or while landing, have the right-of-way over other aircraft... operating on the surface, except that they shall not take advantage of this rule to force an aircraft off the runway surface which has already landed and is attempting to make way for an aircraft on final approach." The accident is attributed to the departing pilot's inadequate visual lookout. Contributing to the accident was the trees/visual obstructions along the runway’s approach path.
- May 8, 2009: A Cessna 172N, registration number N172SV, is seriously damaged in a forced landing after losing engine power immediately upon takeoff from Northwest Regional. The pilot suffers minor or no injuries. Following the accident, an examination of the airplane reveals that the throttle control rod-end to carburetor throttle arm hardware was missing; this is deemed to be the primary cause of the crash. A contributing factor was the pilot's decision to fly the airplane without a current annual inspection.
- March 2, 2012: The pilot of a Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche, registration number N373JT, notices indications of low alternator voltage while en route from Crystal City, Texas to Denton, Texas; after attempting to troubleshoot the problem in-flight, he performs a precautionary landing at Northwest Regional after entirely losing radio communications capability. The aircraft touches down normally, but the main landing gear legs collapse during the landing roll, causing substantial damage to the aircraft; the pilot suffers minor or no injuries. The investigation reveals that the electrically operated landing gear was functioning normally but did not lock in the DOWN position due to inadequate power; the accident is attributed to the failure of the pilot to follow the correct emergency procedures for operating the gear following a loss of electrical power.
- September 22, 2012: A Piper PA-28R-180 Cherokee, registration number N4567J, inexplicably descends to the left and strikes trees immediately after takeoff from Runway 17. The commercial rated pilot and certificated flight instructor (CFI) are killed and the airplane is substantially damaged. Initial reports from witnesses indicate that the takeoff roll was noticeably longer than airplanes typically perform, with an unusual engine sound. The NTSB determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows: The loss of engine power during takeoff due to fuel contamination. Contributing to the accident was maintenance personnel's failure to adequately correct the water contamination effects. Contributing to the severity of the occupants' injuries was the lack of shoulder restraints.
- October 11, 2012: A Meyers Little Toot[N 2], registration number N848Z, experiences a sudden and total loss of power on takeoff. The pilot lands on the remaining runway, but is unable to stop the airplane in the distance remaining, and the airplane departs the end of the runway and collides with two fences before coming to rest inverted. The aircraft suffers substantial damage but the pilot suffers minor or no injuries. The accident is attributed to fuel starvation; examination of the airframe revealed that the fuel lines were partially obstructed with sealant that had been used on an in-tank fuel gauge to create a gasket, which is found deteriorated.
- November 3, 2012: The landing gear of a Cessna 172S, registration number N985GE, strikes an automobile driving on the access road that crosses the approach end of Runway 17. The Cessna's nose and left main landing gear collapse on landing and the aircraft slides off the runway, causing substantial damage. The student pilot is not injured, while the automobile driver and passenger sustain minor injuries. The NTSB accident report notes that "The displaced threshold for the landing runway was located about [140 feet (43 m)] from the approach end of the runway. The roadway... was located about [25 feet (7.6 m)] from the approach end of the runway pavement, about [165 feet (50 m)] from the displaced threshold. Data indicated that the runway threshold was previously displaced [400 feet (120 m)]. Although the privately-owned airport was not required to maintain airport design standards established by the Federal Aviation Administration, the proximity of the roadway and the reduced runway threshold displacement did not provide any safety margin for approaching aircraft." The accident is primarily attributed to the pilot's failure to maintain clearance from obstacles on the runway approach path. Contributing factors are the airport management's decision to relocate the runway displaced threshold, which did not provide an adequate safety margin for approaching aircraft, and the automobile driver's inadequate lookout for approaching aircraft before crossing the runway's approach path.
Flights departing from or bound for Aero Valley / Northwest Regional Airport
The following did not occur at the airfield itself but involved flights originating from or bound for Aero Valley / Northwest Regional Airport:[N 1]
- February 27, 1985: A Grumman American AA-5, registration number N9228L, crashes in the Gulf of Mexico off Horseshoe Beach, Florida, killing its pilot and sole occupant. The pilot was flying from Mobile, Alabama on the second leg of a journey from Aero Valley Airport to Tampa, Florida. The NTSB attributes the crash to an inadvertent descent and spiral dive caused by spatial disorientation in dark nighttime conditions.
- November 17, 2010: A Beechcraft 35-33 Debonair, registration number N5481, suffers a loss of engine power while flying the base leg of the airfield traffic pattern in preparation for landing at Northwest Regional; the pilot leaves the pattern to troubleshoot the problem, but is unable to restore engine power, and the aircraft is substantially damaged in the subsequent off-airport forced landing. The pilot suffers minor or no injuries. The accident investigation fails to reveal the cause of the engine power loss.
- October 6, 2012: The pilot of Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, registration number N32GP, departs Northwest Regional Airport bound for Athens, Texas en route to a football game in Mississippi, but unexpectedly encounters instrument meteorological conditions and asks controllers for permission to divert to Terrell, Texas around 9:45 a.m. Shortly afterwards, radio contact with the pilot is lost, and the wreckage of the craft is found in rural western Van Zandt County, Texas around 6 p.m. The pilot and all 3 passengers perished in the crash. The NTSB accident report notes that there were no known mechanical deficiencies with the aircraft, and the propeller and internal engine components exhibited damage consistent with the production of power at the time of the accident. The accident is attributed to the pilot's loss of airplane control while maneuvering in instrument meteorological conditions, commonly referred to as spatial disorientation.
- Resources for this airport:
- It is unclear exactly when the name change took place, but National Transportation Safety Board reports for incidents through May 1988 use the Aero Valley name, while reports from June 1988 onward use the Northwest Regional name.
- The accident aircraft may be a Meyer Little Toot (no "s"), but the NTSB report does not make this clear.
- Kathy Jackson (1990-04-29). "WOUNDED BIRD - For 60 years, Edna Gardner whyte defied the men who said women couldn't fly. It took age and the government to get around her". The Dallas Morning News.
- Jason Sickles (1992-02-18). "Longtime pilot Edna Whyte dies - Aviation pioneer began flying in 1920s, founded area airport". The Dallas Morning News.
- "NTSB Probable Cause Report FTW88LA108". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "NTSB Probable Cause Report DFW08LA118". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "Edna Gardner Whyte, Aviator, 89". The New York Times. 1992-02-20.
- "Texas Women's Hall of Fame - Whyte, Edna Gardner". Texas Women's University. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "NTSB Factual Report CEN12FA654". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "NTSB Probable Cause Report CEN13FA006". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "NTSB Probable Cause Report CEN13LA011". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "NTSB Probable Cause Report CEN13LA041". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "Northwest Regional Airport" (PDF), Master Airport Record (PDF), Federal Aviation Administration, retrieved 2010-12-07
- "NTSB Probable Cause Report FTW82FA152". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "NTSB Probable Cause Report FTW82FPD13". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "NTSB Probable Cause Report DFW08LA144A". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
- "NTSB Probable Cause Report DFW08LA144B". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
- "NTSB Probable Cause Report CEN09CA253". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "NTSB Probable Cause Report CEN12LA204". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "NTSB Probable Cause Report MIA85FA106". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
- Staff writers (1985-03-02). "PILOT KILLED NEAR FLORIDA IDENTIFIED AS TEXAN". The Dallas Morning News.
- "NTSB Probable Cause Report CEN11LA076". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- Melissa Repko (2012-10-08). "Police identify victims in small-plane crash". The Dallas Morning News.