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On May 28, 1996, approximately 1710 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-401, N1549D, registered to and operated by Monticello Flying Service, as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 positioning flight, was destroyed following a loss of control while maneuvering near Lake Providence, Louisiana. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The flight originated from a private air strip, about 55 minutes prior to the accident.
According to the operator, the airplane was returning to home base following an aerial application of rice seed in the local area. The airplane impacted in an open field, approximately 600 feet from the home base hangar.
Witnesses located near the accident site reported to the investigator-in-charge that they observed the airplane approach the private airstrip from the north at a low altitude. As the airplane neared the south end of the north-south runway, it turned right and headed back towards the north. After passing over highway 580, the airplane turned right and again headed towards the south. When the airplane was approximately abeam the midpoint of the runway, it turned right. With the "nose of the airplane up," the airplane "seemed to over bank and went straight into the ground." The witnesses also reported that the engine sounded "normal."
The commercial rated pilot had accumulated 710 hours in the accident airplane while employed by Monticello Flying Services. (See the enclosed pilot's flight logbook.)
A review of the airframe and engine records by the FAA inspector did not reveal evidence of any uncorrected maintenance defects prior to the flight.
The weather observation at 1715 for Monroe Regional Airport (MLU), located approximately 32 nautical miles west of the accident site, was an estimated ceiling of 6,000 feet broken, 8,000 feet broken; visibility 8 miles; wind from 170 degrees at 8 knots; altimeter 29.78. The temperature was 89 degrees Fahrenheit with a dew point of 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Monroe also reported that thunderstorms ended 15 minutes past the hour and had moved east. There were cumulonimbus clouds to the north, east, and south.
Witnesses reported that the wind sock was observed to be "straight out," and that thunderstorms were located approximately 1.5 miles to the south of the accident site.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The aircraft wreckage was located 15 nautical miles southwest of Lake Providence, Louisiana. The aircraft came to rest 300 feet west of the south end of the operator's air strip in a soy bean field on a magnetic heading of 360 degrees. The initial ground scar was on a magnetic heading of 310 degree. All aircraft components and wreckage were located within a 150 foot radius from the point of impact. (See enclosed wreckage diagram for wreckage distribution details.)
The aircraft fuselage was compacted and the empennage was partially separated and displaced to the right. Both wings were still attached to the fuselage, with the right wing displaced aft. The leading edge of the right wing had multiple tears and was crushed aft. The right aileron and flap were separated from the wing. The flaps were determined to be in the retracted position. Continuity was established to all flight controls.
The engine was found partially buried in the ground and attached to its mounts. The engine was fractured in numerous places. The propeller was attached to the engine. One propeller blade was bent aft, and it exhibited S bending and chordwise scratching. The other propeller blade exhibited no damage.
Examination of the airplane and engine did not reveal any pre-impact structural or mechanical anomalies.
MEDICAL & PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Autopsy and toxicology tests were requested through the East Carroll Parish Sheriff Department. However, due to a miscommunication with the medical examiner, the tests were not performed.
The pilot's seat bottom was deflected downward and it had contacted the elevator push pull tube. The seat belt was intact and the buckle was operable. Both the right and left shoulder harnesses were separated in the box stitching at the lower buckles. The pilot's brother indicated that they had modified the harness and had stitched the separated connections.
The aircraft was released to the owner and his representative.