NTSB Identification: DFW08CA104.
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Accident occurred Sunday, April 20, 2008 in Paragould, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/28/2008
Aircraft: Air Tractor AT-602, registration: N8517M
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot was spraying a field when he struck a set of electrical wires with the right wing and elevator. The airplane remained controllable except for a slight vibration, and the pilot elected to return to the operator's private airstrip located about 6-7 miles away to assess the damage. While on final approach, he heard a slight thump and realized the elevator control had locked up. The pilot was able to break the controls loose, but they felt stiff. The airplane veered off course and headed toward a center pivot that was located just east of the airstrip. The pilot added power to clear the pivot and the nose of the airplane pitched up sharply. The pilot was able to regain control and level off, but he needed to place both hands on the control column to offset the pressure. The pilot then headed toward an open field south of the private airstrip in an attempt to make an emergency landing. He called the operator on the radio and stated that something was coming apart on the airplane and that the outcome of the situation was not going to be good. Shortly after, with both hands and his knee on the control column, the pilot heard a popping sound and the airplane pitched up almost vertically. The airplane then stalled and descended toward the ground at a very steep angle The airplane collided with trees and came to rest near a small body of water. The airplane sustained structural damage to both wings, and the tail section had partially separated and was displaced about 90 degrees. The pilot stated that if it were not for the fact that he was wearing a helmet and his shoulder harness, his injuries would have been much more severe.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from electrical wires while maneuvering. Contributing to the accident were binding of the elevator control, inadvertent stall and trees.

Full narrative available

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