View Full Version : Plane Crash

06-29-2015, 06:45 PM
I just got word that a ham I know in Montrose CO crashed one of his aircraft last Thursday. He is Stephen (Steve) Mathis, W0JOV. He is very lucky to have survived the crash and is listed in "Good" condition at the hospital in Montrose. Steve is an attorney in Montrose. I spoke to him on the air back in 2011 and noted the biplane on his qrz page. He said if I ever got to Montrose he would take me up for a ride, but no one knows where Montrose is, to which I replied I know because my nephew lives there and come to find out Steve knew my nephews wife who is a clerk for a competing law firm, small world.

Anyway a year later I took him up on his offer and we flew for about an hour over the Montrose area. He said he had made the offer to a number of hams but I was the only one to take the ride. Turns out the plane we went up in was the one that he crashed. The news report said he had engine trouble as he got to a mountain summit and he was trying to turn back when apparently he stalled. He crashed in a field and was witnessed by 5 county highway workers who got him out of the wrecked plane. The plane suffered major damage to the nose.

The plane is a 1940 Waco UPF-7. It has a 7 cyl radial engine rated at 220 hp. His plane was totally rebuilt and like a new one. It has a cruise speed of 114mph so it was not a rocket which probably helped him survive the accident. It was used as a training aircraft during WWII and designated as a PT-14.
You can look up the tail number - NC29943.

The Steve took the attached photo of me before the flight.

06-29-2015, 07:03 PM
Wow. That's a shame. But glad your buds OK.

06-29-2015, 07:11 PM
Alas! Beautiful plane. Glad he's going to be OK, and I hope the airplane recovers too.

I have seen many Wacos, and perhaps a UPF-7 or two among them, but never flown one nor even ridden in one.

06-29-2015, 07:41 PM
When he offered the ride I was jumping at the chance to get there. I've been in many different aircraft, commercial, corporate and private and I had never been in an open cockpit and looked forward to it. He let me take the "stick" for a little bit but not being a pilot I made some gentle turns and altitude changes at his direction. From the looks of the wreck it appears to be totaled. You can google "Stephen Mathis airplane accident" to find the newspaper photo's. They are made of wood and fabric. No metal framework in the fuselage and wings.

06-30-2015, 06:02 AM
From the looks of the wreck it appears to be totaled.

Oh, I don't know. It takes a lot to total a UPF-7. The engine (a 300 HP Jacobs R755 "Shaky Jake") will need to be torn down and inspected, of course, but if it wasn't making power when it hit the engine damage won't be too bad, maybe even none; and these engines are still manufactured and can be overhauled for about $30K. The propeller too, maybe another $30K. That still leaves plenty of money to restore this very valuable ($200K to $300K or more) airplane. The fuselage looks mostly undamaged, as is the empennage; but the wings will need a lot of work, and maybe $10,000 worth of aircraft-grade spruce. A friend of mine, Al Fitzgerald of Panacea, FL, rebuilt a closed-cabin Waco Gullwing (a closed-cabin biplane, probably a model UIC), that was about that bad. Al's a genius at rebuilding old wood-and-fabric biplanes; it took him several years.

I'll bet it gets restored. And I hope the owner gets totally restored too.

08-19-2015, 03:03 PM
I went looking for a FAA accident report on NC29943 and couldn't find any as yet. It may be too early, but I did find photos taken by an aircraft salvage company. It wasn't pretty, looks like a total to me. It showed the rear cockpit which was intact so I would imagine Steve's (W0JOV) injuries would have been minor, maybe some facial and leg injuries (knees). The propeller was sheared off so that doesn't fair well for the engine. I couldn't get a web address to work that showed the damage but maybe if you are interested you can do a Google search for "NC29943". I have the phone number of his law office so I may give him a call so see how he faired.