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On February 14, 1997, about 1633 hours Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-18A, N8487D, was destroyed after colliding with power lines near Livingston, California. The pilot was fatally injured and the passenger received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Los Banos, California, on the evening of the accident as a local area personal flight.
According to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the aircraft severed three 12,000 volt single strand power cables located between poles about 75 feet above the ground level. A power cable estimated to be approximately 100 feet long, was found wrapped around the right wing strut near the jury strut attach point. Electrical arcing was found in that area.
After the wire strike the aircraft continued to fly while dragging the 100-foot power cable for a short distance while maneuvering around some buildings. After passing the buildings, the aircraft started a right turn towards an open pasture area. Bordering the pasture area was an access road with a 2-foot-high fence on the south side, and a 3-foot-high wire fence on the north side of the road. On the south side fence was a bent and broken fence pole. According to the FAA inspectors on scene, the trailing cable hooked the fence pole causing the aircraft to nose down. The accident site was located about 30 yards beyond the access road.
According to the passenger, the pilot telephoned and asked to meet him at the Los Banos airport. The passenger stated that he was busy and was this important. The pilot said he would explain later. The passenger arrived at the airport; the pilot taxied up; and the passenger got into the rear seat. The passenger stated that the headset was missing. The pilot told him that it was broke. The passenger reported that he never did learn the purpose of the flight from the pilot.
The passenger reported the weather and visibility were good with visible sun. He stated at the time of the accident the pilot put the aircraft into a steep banking turn and at level off they struck the power cables. He stated he never saw the cables. He also reported that his visibility forward was limited from the rear seat.
An accident report was sent to the registered owner of the aircraft. The form was partially filled out and returned. There were limited data fields of the form that were filled in relating to the annual inspection date and time sections of the form. According to the FAA inspectors, they did not see the logbooks.