According to the just-released National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) preliminary report (Accident Number CEN24LA037), the pilot of a pressurized Lancair LX7 was having a Wile E. Coyote-kind of day on Nov. 11, 2023. At 25,000 feet on a flight from Midland, Texas (KMDD) to Aero County Airport (T31) near McKinney, Texas, the turboprop-powered Lancair was about 250 miles west of Abilene, Texas, when, the pilot told the NTSB, a door seal failed causing a loss of cabin pressure. The pilot advised air traffic controllers he would descend to 10,000 feet to avoid hypoxia, and he and his passenger continued toward T31.
The pilot reported no further anomalies with aircraft systems until about five minutes after establishing cruise flight at 10,000 feet when, he said, a propeller RPM caution light appeared. After reducing RPMs slightly, the warning light extinguished. As he approached the destination airport, the pilot advised ATC he was unfamiliar with T31 and performed a touch-and-go to “see the field.” But on the subsequent downwind leg to Runway 17, he told the NTSB, the throttle-lever ball “came off in his hand”—and he handed it to his passenger. He continued his landing approach at idle power.
At this point, the pilot’s account diverges from the observations of the airport manager and video evidence. The pilot told the NTSB he touched down within the first 500 feet of the runway (listed as 4,352 feet “asphalt/turf” by AirNav) and, shortly thereafter, “hit the brakes gently” while unsuccessfully trying to shift the propeller into reverse thrust.
But the manager said the airplane was about halfway down the runway when it touched down, followed three seconds later by smoke from the tires. The NTSB report reads: “According to the T31 airport manager, who examined the runway surface after the accident, the first visible tire skid marks were about 200 feet past the [halfway] point of the runway. The skid marks remained visible for about 1,300 feet until the airplane departed the end of the asphalt surface.”
As the witness videos show, the aircraft overran the runway, crashed through a perimeter fence and skidded onto an adjoining road, where a motorist crashed into the cowling and right wing. Neither the pilot nor the passenger was injured, and the motorist sustained minor injuries. Both the aircraft and the automobile were substantially damaged.