T-34 Wing Separates

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An Airworthiness Directive was issued concerning possible metal fatigue in T-34 wing spars after a crash in 1999, and now the FAA is checking maintenance records on a Texas Air Aces T-34 that lost a wing during aerobatic maneuvers last Wednesday. The tandem military trainer, built in 1965 by Beechcraft, lost its right wing at about 7,000 feet where company President Don Wylie and William J. Eisenhauer were doing some flying. Both died when the plane crashed in a wooded area near Lake Conroe. Texas Air Aces provides simulated aerial combat rides and trains pilots in upset recovery. Another T-34 was also involved in the flight but returned safely to the airport. Company officials told the Houston Chronicle that they had "complied fully" with the AD but declined to say what, specifically, had been done to the airplane that crashed. NTSB spokesman Alex Lemishko said he found signs of a possible stress fracture in the forward spar of the wing and determined the wing came off in backwards and upwards motion. Lemishko also declined to comment on whether any work had been done on the crash plane's spars but said he'd be going through the logs to see if the AD requirements had been carried out. Other T-34s are permitted to fly while the investigation is underway.