On May 7, 2000, at 1300 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-802A agricultural airplane, N60471, struck a tower while maneuvering near Fort Stockton, Texas. The aircraft, owned and operated by Payne Flying Service of Katy, Texas, and under contract with the Department of Interior, was spraying fire retardant on brush fires in the west Texas ranch land areas for the Texas Forestry Service. The airline transport pilot received fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, public use flight, and a flight plan was not filed. The local flight departed the Fort Stockton-Pecos County Airport, at 1230. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
A witness, located approximately 1/4-mile from the accident site, stated that the agricultural airplane was spraying fire retardant on an 8,000-acre fire. The witness observed the airplane bank "hard to his right" after dropping the fire retardant. The witness reported that "he [the airplane] was still in his turn or bank when he hit the guy wires of the radio tower." The witness heard two loud bangs, and observed the airplane impact the ground.
The FAA inspector and airplane manufacturer representative, who responded to the accident site, found multiple strands of cable among the aircraft wreckage. The top 80 feet of the 300-foot antenna tower and the associated guide cables were destroyed. The wing skin of the airplane was found stripped from the spars. The engine and propeller were found separated from the airframe. All propeller blades were found bent and twisted. The FAA inspector reported that there were no mechanical discrepancies found with the airframe or the engine that would have prevented operation of the airplane prior to the accident.
The FAA inspector stated that visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident; however, there was "blowing smoke in the air that may have been a contributing factor." The 25,556-hour pilot had accumulated approximately 1,500 hours in the same make and model as the accident airplane.
An autopsy was conducted by the Bexar County Forensic Science Center. According to the medical examiner, who conducted the autopsy, the pilot died as a result of "multiple severe traumatic injuries." Toxicology tests for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and drugs were negative.