Authorities in Chambers County, Texas, are offering few details on the crash of a Stearman that was attempting to take off from a highway in the town of Winnie on Saturday. The aircraft was destroyed but the pilot reportedly has only minor injuries. Cellphone video shows the biplane lifting off from County Highway 124 just before an intersection.

The highway appears to have been blocked off to allow the takeoff. The local Rice Festival Parade had just finished and KRTK in Houston reported that the aircraft “was headed back to the airport from the parade” when the mishap occurred. The video shows the aircraft climbing before clipping a light standard with its landing gear in the intersection. The light itself falls to the ground after that collision and a second collision with a wire on the other side of the intersection ends the flight. 


  1. Did I see this plane take off on a highway and fly under power lines? And this was part of a parade festival?
    I just can’t believe that this was allowed to happen. What country is this happening in again? Texas?

  2. Not a power line, but, a cable hung over the highway for hanging the traffic standards.

    Just as the Stearmans nose crosses into the intersection, there is a sharp “click” in the audio, and something dark and rectangular can be clearly seen falling from beneath the aircraft. Viewing frame-to-frame, the object visually become smaller on its trajectory away from the aircraft. The object is tiny by the time it is last viewable near the left corner of the second from the left hanging traffic light above the police officer. Whatever that object is, I’d speculate that this object was a projectile moving horizontally away from the port side of the aircraft.

    • The “dark and rectangular” object “falling from beneath the aircraft” is called a streetlamp. These are often suspended from lightpoles over traffic intersections, and not generally protected from aircraft which seldom takeoff from roadways. The Stearmans’s LHS LG strut clips the lightpole and sends the streetlamp hurdling forward. This accident requires only 2 minutes “investigation” by the NTSB, with one simple worded conclusion being necessary:


  3. Looks to me like he kept her low to clear the power wires but forgot about the lower wire supporting the traffic lights; that’s the one that got him. Not a pleasant situation when you know you’re going to hit the wire but there’s not a thing you can do about it. I know the feeling.

  4. It looks like this plane struck the street light first then striking cabling to the two stop lights, apparently trying to fly just above these obstructions but below higher power lines just as reported. The news seems to imply this WWII
    biplane was part of the local Rice parade abs the pilot decided to take off from the streets, perhaps misjudging obstacles in his decision making. Walking away with a few injuries and a wrecked WWII aircraft may be a hard lesson on choosing a tow back to the airport or attempting take off from a non airport site.

  5. Looks to me like he got it right on the edge of a stall while trying to gain the altitude needed to clear the obstacles, and then had to lower the nose before he was high enough.

    I saw another report that suggested the pilot decided to try to fly it out due to some impending weather and that originally it was to be towed back to the airport. Interesting that this risk was felt to be a better risk than the weather.

    Finally, he only needed another foot or two to clear that light, and had he cleared the light we might not be hearing about this at all. It always amazes me how just a little bit this way or that way can make a huge difference. And sometimes you get lucky when you make a decision that seems dubious.

    But I never fail to see that when you make enough of those dubious decisions, you eventually pay the price.

    Just goes to show that you have to be smart out there.

  6. There may be some extenuating circumstance that explains this as anything other than abject stupidity. Right now I can’t imagine what, however.

    Oh well. The owner of the aircraft can always go to the Stearman factory and buy a replacement…