NTSB Identification: CHI00FA139.
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Accident occurred Saturday, May 20, 2000 in MUSKEGON, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/02/2001
Aircraft: Wsk Pzl Mielec M-18A, registration: N178RA
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.

A witness and her husband watched the airplane head southbound, make a 'U-turn' and head north toward her location. The witness said she heard the engine. 'There was no engine trouble. It sounded as if it were under full power. It was not sputtering. It sounded okay.' The witness said that as the airplane crossed the street in front of her house, 'it got caught in the tree tops, and went into the woods.' The husband said that he saw the airplane 'head south, then turn west, and then north (making a U-turn) over my residence ... The plane sounded normal, but appeared to be lower in the air than in previous passes in the area.' Approximately 50 feet north of his house, the husband said, 'the bottom of the plane began brushing the tree tops. I observed and heard the plane diving through the trees before it crashed to the ground. Approximately 30 seconds later, the plane burst into flames.' According to the airplane owner, the accident airplane was one of five airplanes contracted by the State of Michigan, to spray for Gypsy moths in the area north of Muskegon, Michigan. The airplane had been flown two previous times that day. An examination of the wreckage revealed no anomalies.

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

the pilot's failure to maintain clearance from the trees. Factors relating to this accident were the low altitude and the trees.

Full narrative available

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