On September 8, 1996, at 1000 central daylight time, a Piper PA-36-300, N57871, registered to and operated by Tarzan Ag Services of Tarzan, Texas, as a Title 14 CFR Part 137 flight, struck a wire while maneuvering near Stanton, Texas, and the pilot lost control of the airplane during the landing/flare at the Stanton Municipal Airport. The commercial pilot was not injured and the airplane received substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local aerial application flight and a flight plan was not filed. The flight originated from the Stanton Municipal Airport at 0900.

During a telephone interview, conducted by the investigator-in-charge, and on the Pilot/Operator Report, the pilot and operator reported the following information. The pilot was spraying milo and cleaning up the edge of the field when the airplane struck an electrical wire. The pilot had sprayed the field previously; however, he stated that the "wire was new." The airplane struck the wire at the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer where the upper bolt attaches the rudder and the vertical stabilizer. Wire cutters installed on the aircraft, did not cut the wire. The upper bolt of the rudder was pulled out and the rudder was hanging by the control cables and the lower bolt. During the 15 mile flight to the airport, the rudder vibrated loose and separated from the aircraft. When the airplane was slowed for the landing/flare the pilot lost control of the airplane and it veered to the left of runway 16.

The accident was not reported by the operator or the pilot until after the FAA inspector discovered the airplane during his normal surveillance of the operator. Structural damage was found at the rudder and rudder attachment point.

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