Should Plane That Crashed Into Xsport Fitness, Naperville Have Been Taking Off in the Other Direction on Runway 18/36?

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Video of plane crash aftermath and investigation at XSPORT FITNESS, 2780 Fitness Drive near Route 59 and 75th Street in Naperville. HD is available in full screen (see right of control bar).

If the Piper PA-32R-300 that crashed into XSPORT FITNESS Wednesday, October 6, 2010 about noon was taking off using Runway 36, it may have been heading north with the wind behind it — possibly not optimal for a small plane with a big building ahead of it. The airstrip at Aero Estates is Runway 18/36. The ’18’ is short for 180 degrees, which means a plane using 18’s runway direction would take off due south. The ’36’ is short for 360 degrees, which means a plane using 36’s runway direction would be taking off due north. The numbers correspond to the local azimuth — North is 0° or 360 degrees, East is 90 degrees, South is 180 degrees, and West is 270 degrees.

Apparently the plane was taking off with the wind, not against the wind.
Airplanes are able to takeoff and fly by utilizing the lifting force of wind that is flowing past the wings. The faster the air flow, the greater the lifting force. The wings of an airplane allow lift by moving forward through the air. Flying into the wind causes the wings to get a boost of air flow velocity greater than the speed of the aircraft relative to the ground. An aircraft flying into the wind — for example, taking off in a northerly direction when the wind is coming from the north — can get into the air, or lift, more quickly. It appears that the wind Wednesday — if the weather observations are correct — was coming predominantly from the south. The boost of oncoming wind was apparently not available for the plane taking off in a northerly direction. The plane may have had better lift by taking off in a southerly direction from the runway — the opposite direction. The Cardinal video also shows the wind sock at Aero Estates indicating the wind coming from the southwest, and blowing northeast at 2:58 PM (video elapsed time 1:00/about three hours after the crash).

Windsock at Aero Estates Wednesday showing a West-Southwest or Southwest wind.

Weather observations for Wednesday, October 06, 2010
1152  71.1 °F   45.0 °F  39%  30.11 in  9.0 miles  SSW  10.4 mph   Clear
1252  75.0 °F   45.0 °F  34%  30.08 in 10.0 miles  WSW  10.4 mph  Clear

Of course, officials at the FAA or NTSB will have the final word.

— Weather observed at DuPage/ — KDPA 10/06/2010

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