NTSB Identification: DEN06LA061.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, April 12, 2006 in Smith Center, KS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/29/2006
Aircraft: Piper PA-25-235, registration: N9886P
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, "Everything seemed okay and I took off on runway 35 from the Smith Center Municipal Airport ... As I turned and headed east, I took out the notch of flaps, and the tail of the plane sank. The plane was flying poorly and felt like it was on the edge of a stall. The throttle and mixture were full forward, and the tachometer was indicating 2,700 rpm." The pilot said that when he put the notch of flaps back in, the airplane seemed to perform better. The pilot said, "With almost a full load [of chemical], I did not want to land back at the airport, so I proceeded to the field thinking that once I had sprayed a few passes and relieved some of the weight, the airplane would start flying better." The pilot said that as he came to the pasture, he was only able to climb the airplane to approximately 300 feet above ground level (agl). He circled the field a couple of times looking for power lines, trees, anything that might hinder spraying operations. The pilot made his first pass about 20 feet above the ground. After the pass, he made a wide right turn. The airplane would not hold altitude in the turn. Attributing the poor performance to the airplane's weight, the pilot maneuvered to make the next pass over the middle of the field so that he could "dump some of the weight." He made a second pass over the field followed by a wide left turn toward the southwest and the airport. On completion of the turn, the pilot noted he had descended to approximately 40 feet agl. In front of him were power lines that he was now lower than and had to clear in order to return to the airport. The pilot said he started a climb about three-quarters of a mile from the power lines. The airplane was approximately 40 feet agl it "went into a stall." The pilot said he leveled the wings and prepared for the crash. The airplane hit the ground flat and slid approximately 100 feet before striking a pasture fence. An examination of the airplane revealed no anomalies. The density altitude at the time of the accident was 2,489 feet. The airplane's gross weight at the time of the accident was determined as approximately 2,993 pounds. Specifications for the PA-25-235 show an empty weight of 1,288 pounds and a maximum takeoff weight of 2,900 pounds. Civil Aeronautics Manual (CAM) 8, paragraph 8.10-4 (b) "Maximum Weight" states that establishing a maximum weight for an agricultural aircraft is not required.

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

the pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed which resulted in an inadvertent stall/mush, and subsequent impact with the field and fence. A factor contributing to the accident was the pilot's inadequate flight planning and preparation.

Full narrative available

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