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On April 13, 1994, at 1130 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-502, N9086V, was destroyed on impact with terrain while maneuvering near Hughes, Arkansas. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the aerial application flight.
According to the operator, the pilot was assigned to dispense fertilizer on a triangular shaped field from a height of 50 feet above the ground. The operator added that the pilot had worked the same field on three previous occasions within the last 12 months.
The assigned flagman stated that the field was measured and posted at 60 feet intervals for a west to east spray pattern. For reasons unknown to the flagman, while on the fifth pass over the field, the pilot broke off the pass and circled to the left (north) to start anew. The pilot lined up at the same row he abandoned, and appeared to continue a normal pass up to the mid field point.
The flagman stated that at the mid field point, he observed "the plane bumping up and down" with a pronounced up and down deflection of the elevator. The flagman further stated that the airplane gradually descended to the point where he had to duck out of the way to avoid being hit by the airplane. He observed the airplane fly overhead as the pilot discontinued the flow of fertilizer. He further reported that "the plane struggled to get over the willow trees" at the end of the field.
After clearing the trees, the airplane was observed executing a left turn, followed by a right turn, as done to reverse direction. The flagman observed as the right turn continued and the right wing impacted the ground while in a nose low attitude.
The pilot had been employed by the agricultural operator for 27 months. The pilot had not flown on the previous day.
The airplane was manufactured on November 10, 1992. The 500 gallon hopper was loaded with "Urea fertilizer" after completion of the first flight of the day. The first flight of the day was a spray mission with "Furadan 4F" insecticide/nematicide.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Particles of green plastic, identified as the right wing tip navigational light, were located at a ground scar at the initial point of ground impact. Impressions of the right main gear tire were found immediately after the ground scars. Imprints corresponding to the right main landing gear strut were found with the landing gear strut.
All ground scars and imprints at the initial point to impact were oriented on an measured heading of 095 degrees, with the fuselage coming to rest on a measured heading of 290 degrees. See enclosed wreckage diagram for wreckage distribution.
All three propeller blades remained attached to the hub. The propeller was found separated from the engine at the crankshaft flange. All blades exhibited "S" type bending, and chordwise marks, with all leading edges sustaining dents and gouges.
No pre-impact discrepancies were observed with the airframe or the aircraft systems. A review of the airframe and engine records by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, did not reveal any anomalies or uncorrected maintenance defects prior to the flight.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Autopsy and toxicology tests were requested and performed. The autopsy was performed by Charles P. Kokes, M.D., Associate Medical Examiner for the Arkansas State Criminal Laboratory in Little Rock, Arkansas. Toxicology tests were negative.
The pilot was wearing a flight helmet. The cockpit was not compromised. There was no fire. The 3,000 pound rated pilot's right shoulder harness was found separated at the point where it attached to the seat belt buckle below the double box stitch.
The wreckage was released to the owner's representative at the accident site.