NTSB Identification: CHI99FA165.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, May 25, 1999 in ELKHART, KS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/12/2000
Aircraft: Air Tractor AT-400, registration: N400MJ
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The aircraft was being flown from Ulysses, Kansas, following maintenance to the aerial spray system. A drilling rig worker, operating at a 96-foot tall temporary oil-drilling rig, located approximately 0.75 miles north of the accident site, said that the airplane came directly at them on a south heading. The worker reported that the altitude of the aircraft was below the height of the rig (96 feet) but above his position approximately 50 feet above ground level. The worker stated that the aircraft banked right to avoid the tower and flew southerly into the fog. The airplane impacted terrain approximately 0.75 miles south of the drilling rig. The weather 50 nautical miles east of the accident site was reported as overcast at 300 feet above ground level. Witnesses estimated the local ceiling to be 180 to 200 feet at the time of the accident. There is no record of the pilot obtaining a weather briefing. There were no mechanical discrepancies found during the examination of the wreckage that could be associated with a preexisting condition.

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

The pilot's inadequate in-flight planning/decision and his inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions which resulted in spatial disorientation and subsequent loss of aircraft control. Contributing to the accident was the poor weather conditions.

Full narrative available

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