NTSB Identification: LAX98LA233.
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Accident occurred Thursday, July 16, 1998 in TRANQUILLITY, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/22/2000
Aircraft: Air Tractor AT-400, registration: N2373V
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot said that this was the first flight at a new field, and he had not visually inspected the field before spraying it. He made a pass over the field to check for wires, and did not see any. On the second pass he saw a steel power cable strung between poles that was in his flight path. The pilot stated that it was too late to pull up to avoid the cable, and he pushed the nose of the aircraft down to fly underneath it. The aircraft, equipped with a wire deflector, struck a telephone wire underneath the initial steel cable. The wire deflector and the vertical stabilizer separated from the aircraft. The pilot began to lose directional and roll control, and he pushed the nose towards the ground and made a forced landing. The pilot stated that there were no mechanical malfunctions with the engine or flight controls prior to striking the wires. The night was dark with no moon.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's failure to detect and avoid a set of wires during a night aerial application flight. Factors in the accident were the pilot's failure to perform an adequate preflight inspection of the field to determine obstruction locations and the dark night lighting conditions.

Full narrative available

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