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On August 11, 2004, about 1142 central daylight time, an Allied Ag Cat Productions, Inc., G-164B, N48424, operated by a commercial pilot, was destroyed on impact with a tree and terrain during an aerial application maneuver near Moville, Iowa. The flight was operating under 14 CFR Part 137. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was on file. The pilot was fatally injured. The local flight departed from the Cherokee Municipal Airport (CKP), near Cherokee, Iowa, about 0930.
The airplane received fuel at CKP and departed for a local aerial application flight about 0930. The airplane had about two hours of fuel onboard. Previous flights returned in about an hour and a half. The fixed base operator at CKP and aerial application load personnel became concerned when the airplane did not return as expected. A pilot at the fixed base operator departed to look for the airplane. The airplane's accident location was found and was radioed to the Woodbury County Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's report had a statement from a witness in the area that saw the airplane spraying approximately 1110 - 1115. No witness of the accident was found.
The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate for single engine land airplanes. The operator's accident report showed that he had accumulated about 1,500 hours of total flight time. That report showed that he accumulated about 80 hours of flight time in the last 90 days.
On his most recent application for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate, which was issued on January 20, 2004, he reported that he had accumulated 1,400 hours of total flight time at the time of that medical and 200 hours in the six months prior. That application asked, "Do You Currently Use Any Medication (Prescription or Nonprescription)?" The answer "No" was checked for that question. A limitation for corrective lenses was listed on that medical certificate. On his application for a third-class medical certificate which was issued on May 15, 1998, he reported a medical history of a head injury to require stitches, hernia, right knee surgery, fractured right hip and femur, and fusion of C6/C7 vertebrae and he reported a doctor’s visit for arthritis. No changes to that medical history were reported on his most recent medical certificate application.
N48424 was a 1976 model G-164B, tailwheel-equipped, restricted category biplane configured for aerial application. FAA records showed that Allied Ag Cat Productions, Inc. was the holder of the G-164B's type certificate data sheet, number 1A16. The operator's accident report showed that the airplane underwent its most recent annual inspection on July 1, 2004. The airplane was powered by a 450-horsepower Pratt and Whitney R985 radial engine.
At 1152, the recorded weather observation at Sioux Gateway Airport, near Sioux City, Iowa, located approximately 20 nautical miles west of the accident, was: Wind 310 degrees at 8 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition few 2,300 feet, broken 3,600 feet; temperature 15 degrees C; dew point 9 degrees C; altimeter 30.17 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
FAA Inspectors performed an on scene examination of the wreckage and sketched the accident site. The sketch is appended to the docket material associated with this case. An inspector reported:
The engine was found under the spray tank. The propeller
blade was curled and melted by post crash fire. Tail
surfaces were found straight and undamaged other than by
fire to the fabric covering.
The left wings (upper and lower) showed damage consistent
with ground impact. The right wings (upper and lower)
showed damage consistent with striking a tree. The tree
that the aircraft struck was located about 40 yards west
of the high-voltage power lines. Damage to the tree
started about 40-45 feet from the ground. Many tree
branches were found both at the crash site and under the
tree. More branches were found along the path of the
aircraft after contact with the tree. Some of these
[branches] were six inches in diameter and some showed
signs of propeller strike. The cockpit area was found
intact with minimal structural damage other than from
post crash fire.
[A local farmer], who farms the field being sprayed, was
interviewed. He observed the pilot applying spray in an
east-west direction. He also indicated that the pilot
was consistently flying under high-voltage power lines
that were located on the west end of the field.
Review of aerial photographs reveals that corn crop crush damage was contained to the immediate outline of the airplane.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed at Saint Luke's Medical Center, Sioux City, Iowa on August 12, 2004. The autopsy's summary indicated that there was a "presence of fixation screws in the right hip."
The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute prepared a Forensic Toxicological Fatal Accident Report. The report stated:
NAPROXEN present in Liver
NAPROXEN present in Kidney
The FAA was a party to the investigation.
Naproxen is an anti-inflammatory medication available by prescription and over the counter (often known by the trade name Aleve) and used to reduce pain and inflammation.
The operator's safety recommendation was, "Have high visibility for all powerlines so pilots can focus on other objects."