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On May 26, 1999, approximately 0555 central daylight time, a Grumman-Schweizer G164-B agricultural airplane, N8285K, was destroyed when it collided with terrain near Brinkley, Arkansas. The non-instrument rated commercial pilot, the sole occupant of the airplane, received fatal injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by Chism Flying Service Inc., of Brinkley, Arkansas. At the time of the accident, instrument meteorological conditions existed at the accident site. A flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 aerial application flight. The flight originated from the Frank Federer Memorial Airport, Brinkley, Arkansas, approximately 0550.
A witness, who was an agricultural pilot and located on the airport, reported that at 0545 he observed "what appeared to be fog obscuring [a] 660 foot cable tower located 1.5 miles west of the airfield." He added that he then departed in his airplane, but returned to the airport after encountering low ceilings (100-150 feet agl) and a fog bank west of the airport. The fog bank extended from the northwest to the southeast. He stated that he then observed the accident airplane depart from runway 20 and turn to the west. "Shortly thereafter (3-5 minutes) the weather at the airfield degraded to less than 1/4 mile visibility and ceilings were less than 50 feet agl."
According to the operator, the aircraft was loaded with 300 gallons of Super Wham and Surfactant solution, a non-toxic herbicide, before departing from runway 20. The airplane was observed making a right turn, to the west, after takeoff. Approximately two minutes after departure, the pilot radioed to the operator that he was "disoriented." The operator stated that "apparently [he] was trapped behind a fog bank." There was no further communication between the operator and pilot. The aircraft was found inverted in a wheat field, two miles west of the airport.
A witness, who was located 200 yards from the accident site, reported hearing the airplane but, due to the fog, he could not see the airplane until the time of impact. He reported that the visibility was approximately 500 yards at the time of the accident.
According to FAA records, on November 25, 1988, the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate with a single engine land airplane rating, and on March 16, 1991, the pilot was issued a commercial pilot certificate. According to the last entry in the pilot's flight logbook, he completed a biennial flight review on March 20, 1999. The last entry in the logbook indicated that he had accumulated a total of 4,160 hours, of which 3,622 hours were logged as agricultural flight time. The pilot was not instrument rated.
The 1980 model, tailwheel-equipped, biplane underwent its most recent annual inspection on March 12, 1999, and had accumulated a total of 5,701.7 hours at that time. The annual inspection was the last entry in the airframe logbook. The restricted category airplane was equipped with a 550-horsepower Pratt and Whitney PT6A-20 turboprop engine, serial number PCE-20059, and a Hartzell HC-B3TN-B3 3-bladed propeller. The engine was installed in the airplane on March 12, 1999, and at that time, had accumulated a total of 6,955.5 hours since its last overhaul. The airplane was equipped with the following flight instruments: a magnetic compass, altimeter, and air speed indicator. It was not equipped with an attitude indicator. A review of available airframe and engine maintenance records, conducted by the NTSB investigator-in-charge, revealed no evidence of any uncorrected maintenance defects.
Additionally, the airplane was equipped with a 40 cubic feet, fiberglass hopper tank. The hopper tank was mounted on the top of the fuselage, forward of the cockpit.
At 0453, the weather observation facility at Jonesboro, Arkansas, (located 60 miles north of the accident site) reported calm wind, visibility 5 miles, temperature 61 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 62 degrees Fahrenheit, and mist.
At 0553, the weather observation facility at Memphis, Tennessee, (located 60 miles east of the accident site) reported wind from 020 at degrees at 6 knots, visibility 4 miles, temperature 63 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 66 degrees Fahrenheit, and mist.
The operator reported that when the accident airplane departed the airport, the weather conditions were "hazy but visibility was 1 mile plus."
The airplane came to rest two miles west of the Federer Memorial Airport, on a measured magnetic heading of 200 degrees. The accident site encompassed an area approximately 45 feet by 45 feet. The main wreckage consisted of the cabin area, wings, empennage, landing gear, engine, and propeller. The left inter aileron strut and a section of empennage skin were located at 17 feet and 39 feet northwest of the main wreckage, respectively. Sections of the fuel tanks, fuselage skin, and the hopper tank were found scattered in a fan distribution (070 degrees to 100 degrees), between 54 feet and 100 feet, east of the main wreckage.
The left and right wings separated from the airframe. The upper right wing remained attached to the lower right wing by the flying wires only. The right interplane struts remained attached to the lower wing and separated from the upper wing. The right inter aileron strut separated from the lower aileron and remained attached to the upper aileron. The right upper aileron control surface, along with the inter aileron strut, separated from the wing structure. The upper left wing remained attached to the lower left wing by the flying wires only. The left interplane struts remained attached to the lower wing and separated from the upper wing. The left inter aileron strut separated from the upper and lower aileron attaching points. The empennage remained attached to the fuselage. The vertical fin, rudder, horizontal stabilizer, and elevator remained intact.
Continuity of the rudder control system was confirmed. The torque tubes for the elevator control system were separated behind the pilot's seat; continuity was established from the point of separation to the elevator control surfaces. Continuity was established for the aileron control system from the lower aileron control surfaces of both wings to the wing roots. The aileron control cables were severed at both wing roots, and the cable strands were frayed and uneven in length.
The engine and propeller came to rest with the main wreckage. The engine separated from the airframe, and the propeller separated from the engine. The engine and propeller were found buried in a crater that was 4 feet in depth and contained a fluid, which appeared to be a mixture of jet fuel (kerosene) and liquid chemical. The first stage titanium compressor blades were bent opposite from the direction of rotation, and the blade tips were curled. The exhaust section of the engine was collapsed and exhibited signatures of heat stress. The engine accessories remained attached to the engine. Fuel was present in the fuel control unit. The bolts, which attach the propeller hub to the engine, were sheared. Each of the three propeller blades exhibited "S" bending and remained attached to the hub.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy and toxicological tests were ordered and performed. The autopsy was performed on May 26, 1999, by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, Little Rock, Arkansas. Toxicological tests performed by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory were negative.
The pilot was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, and the seatbelt/shoulder harness assembly was found in the secured position.
The wreckage was released to the owner on May 27, 1999, following the on-site examination.