FTW00LA166
FTW00LA166

On June 1, 2000, at 0700 central daylight time, a Cessna A188B agricultural airplane, N70114, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Pioneer, Louisiana. The commercial pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by Pioneer Flying Service Inc., of Pioneer. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 aerial application flight. The flight originated from the operator's private grass airstrip, at 0635.

According to the operator and his personnel, the airplane's fuel tanks were topped off and the airplane departed with 150 gallons of Trefend (herbicide) on board to spray a nearby field. Witnesses reported that prior to the accident, they observed the airplane making north-south passes over a field. One witness stated that from his view, he saw the airplane make two 180 degree turns from the south to the north, one following each of the first two southbound spray runs. He stated that during the airplane's third turn he could hear, but could "barely see the aircraft over the trees tops, unlike the previous two times." Another witness stated that he was working in the area when he heard a "loud pop," looked, and observed the airplane pointed straight up over the trees. Subsequently, the airplane passed out of the witnesses' view behind trees.

According to an FAA inspector and a representative from Cessna Aircraft Company, who examined the accident site and airplane, the airplane was heading approximately 190 degrees when it initially contacted trees that were approximately 50 feet tall. The airplane traveled an additional 200 feet before the airplane's left wing contacted a second area of trees that were approximately 70 feet tall. Subsequently, the left wing separated from the airframe and the airplane descended to the ground. The engine separated from the airframe, and the propeller blades, which remained attached to the propeller hub, were loose and exhibited "S" type bending. Flight control continuity was established from the rudder and elevator to the forward cockpit. Aileron flight control continuity was established between the right wing's aileron and the cabin area; the left wing's aileron cable was separated at the wing's mid-span. The throttle, mixture, and propeller controls were found in the full forward position.

A friend of the accident pilot, who is also a pilot for Pioneer Flying Service, was interviewed following the accident. He stated that on the evening of May 31, 2000, the accident pilot mentioned that he had "hit some trees on that day and had to pull the leaves out of the boom of the airplane." The accident pilot added that "he had the power lines licked, but seemed to have a problem clearing the tree tops."

A review of the pilot's flight logbook and flight training records revealed that he received his commercial certificate on April 25, 2000, and successfully completed a professional agricultural pilot training course administered by Ag-Flight, Inc., of Bainbridge, Georgia, on May 5, 2000. He had accumulated a total of 586 flight hours during the nine month period preceding the accident. Two hundred fourteen of his total flight hours were in the make and model of the accident airplane, and had been accumulated during a one month period preceding the accident. The operator reported that the accident flight was the pilot's second revenue spray flight.

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