DFW05CA131
DFW05CA131

On May 24, 2005, approximately 1400 central daylight time, a tail wheel-equipped Air Tractor AT-402A agricultural airplane, N198AS, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during take off from a private airstrip near Cherry Valley, Arkansas. The commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant of the airplane, was not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual doing business as Runsick Flying Service, Wynne, Arkansas. No flight plan was filed for the local flight that was originating at the time of the accident. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the aerial application flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137.

The 1,931-hour pilot stated that he departed on his twenty-first flight of the day from the 2,200-foot-long and 70-foot-wide grass runway with a 22 knot tailwind. The airplane was loaded with less fuel and the same amount of fertilizer as the previous twenty flights, but the wind velocity had steadily increased throughout the day. The pilot said the airplane became airborne approximately 1,800 to 1,900 feet down the runway, but stayed in ground effect and subsequently struck two levees before it crossed a gravel road and impacted a ditch. The airplane eventually came to rest in a bean field. He said, "The tailwind and the load probably caused the airplane not to climb." The pilot also said that he did not calculate any take off performance data prior to departure.

Examination of the airplane by the pilot revealed that the main landing gear was separated from the fuselage, and the empennage aft of the cockpit sustained substantial damage. The left and right ailerons and flaps were also damaged.

The pilot reported that due to 100-foot-tall trees located at the north end of the runway, most departures were made to the south. A windsock was located southwest of the airstrip on top of a 30-foot tall grain bin. He said the weather conditions at the time of the accident were winds variable between 360 and 020 degrees gusting to 22 knots, and a temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

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