NTSB Identification: LAX08CA188.
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Accident occurred Thursday, June 19, 2008 in Lodi, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/30/2008
Aircraft: Piper PA-36-375, registration: N3859E
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 flying low over a grape vineyard to apply sulfur dust to the crop. He had made two application runs with no problems encountered. As he set up for the third run, he observed that the sulfur applied on the previous two runs had aggregated into a cloud and had drifted through the area in which he would be flying. He decided to continue the application run, and lost all visual contact with the ground as the airplane flew into the sulfur dust cloud. The left wing hit a grape trellis, which pulled the airplane down and to the left. The airplane traveled 150 yards on top of the grape trellises before stopping inverted on the ground. The pilot reported no mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane during the flight.

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

The pilot's inadequate in-flight decision to continue the flight into an area of obscured visibility and his failure to maintain clearance above obstacles.

Full narrative available

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