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On June 10, 1994, at 0856 central daylight time, a Piper PA-25-235, N4492Y, was destroyed upon impact with terrain while maneuvering near Breckenridge, Texas. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the aerial application flight.
According to the operator, the airplane departed the Stephens County Airport, near Breckenridge, Texas, earlier that morning with a 120 gallons of herbicides to spray fields approximately 25 miles north of the airport. A localized heavy area of fog encountered en route to the work site forced the pilot to return to the airport and wait for the weather to improve.
The flaggers reported to the pilot that the weather at the field to be sprayed had cleared. The pilot elected to make another attempt, and the airplane departed at 0840. According to the enclosed accident report, en route to the work site, the pilot reported that conditions were not as good as he had hoped for and he was trying to find a way around the fog.
The pilot maintained radio contact with the operator at the airport, as well as with the operator's wife, who was in a truck in the vicinity of the accident site. Several witnesses reported observing the airplane flying near tree tops, overflying a barn, making a steep left turn, disappearing into the fog bank, followed seconds later by the sound of ground impact.
The pilot was instrument rated; however, he had not flown under actual or simulated instrument conditions for the previous five years.
Flight instruments installed in the airplane were an airspeed indicator, a magnetic compass, and an altimeter.
A localized heavy area of fog prevailed to the north of the airport. Visibility in the vicinity of the accident site was reported to be as low as five feet, and as high as 150 feet.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The navigational lens cover for the left wing was found at a ground scar at the initial point of impact. An imprint of the left main landing gear tire and strut was also found near the initial point of impact. Ground scars were found on a measured heading of 143 degrees, with the airframe coming to rest on a measured heading of 050 degrees.
The propeller assembly was found separated from the engine at the propeller flange. Both blades had evidence of S-type bending and leading edge scoring. The wing flaps were found in the retracted position. See the enclosed wreckage diagram for distribution pattern.
Continuity was established to all the flight controls. Examination of the airframe and engine at the accident site did not disclose any pre-impact discrepancies. 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
An autopsy and toxicological tests were ordered and performed. The autopsy was performed by the Tarrant County Office of the Medical Examiner, in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 13, 1993. Toxicological tests were negative.
The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on June 16, 1994.