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Fri, Apr 21, 2023

Two Hospitalized Following Jet Trainer Mishap

Downed Aircraft’s Pilot Affiliated with Darkstar Air Racing Team

On Wednesday, 19 April 2023, the pilot and passenger of a 1992 Aero Vodochody L-139—a high-performance jet trainer designed and produced in Czechoslovakia by Aero Vodochody—were transported to hospital after the light jet impacted and crashed through an unoccupied building near Bridgeport, Texas’s Bridgeport Municipal Airport (XBP).

Sergeant Josue “Tony” De La Cerda of Texas’s Department of Public Safety set forth that the aircraft departed Perot Field/Fort Worth Alliance (AFW) and was enroute to XBP when it went down—at approximately 18:45 CST—in the 1900 block of U.S. 380.

According to online flight tracking, the aircraft took-off from AFW at 18:21 CST and proceeded in the direction of XBP at a mean altitude and speed of 3,500-feet and 226-knots respectively.

As the L-139 neared XBP it climbed to 3,800-feet before descending rapidly—but within normal approach limits for an aircraft of its design—toward the airport. However, as the light-jet continued along the final-approach path to XBP’s active runway, it commenced a circling climb to 4,000-feet (XBP’s field elevation is 852-feet MSL) and accelerated from 122-knots to 247-knots. Whether or not the maneuver was a planned go-around remains unknown.

Flight tracking data shows the L-139 then began its final descent, coming to ground north of XBP.

The jet was piloted by Dianna Stanger, 62, of Washington, Texas. Ms. Stranger is an accomplished pilot and owner of the Darkstar air racing team—the website of which states she began flying in 1994. Regrettably, Ms. Stranger sustained critical injuries and was flown straight-away to Fort Worth’s John Peter Smith Hospital.

The L-139’s passenger, Thomas Charles, 58, of Niceville, Florida, sustained serious injuries and was transported by ground ambulance to Medical City-Denton.

The downed aircraft’s registration indicates it was owned by Veruca Salt LLC of Port Lavaca, Texas. Ms. Stranger is the company’s registered agent on file.

The Aero Vodochody L-139 is the world’s most widely-used jet trainer. In addition to serving as a capable basic and advanced jet training platform, the type has flown combat missions in the light-attack role. The aircraft defies NATO convention insomuch as it has never been ascribed a reporting name—such as the MiG-21 Fishbed, the Su-27 Flanker, and the ever-popular MiG-15 Fagot—by the organization.

The incident remains under investigation.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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