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On July 16, 2007, between 1230 and 1530 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-402A, N203DM, registered to Helm Flying Service, collided with the terrain in Laurel, Iowa. The commercial rated pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The aerial application flight was operating under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated from the Marshalltown Municipal Airport (MIW), Marshalltown, Iowa, about 1230.
The pilot and airplane had been contracted to perform aerial application flights for Meyer Agri Air. The pilot was last seen at MIW around 1230. He was scheduled to spray two bean fields and was to return to MIW. When he had not returned by 1430 a ground and air search was initiated. The airplane was located by air about 1530. There are no known witnesses to the accident.
The pilot, age 60, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, airplane single-engine sea, airplane multi-engine land, instrument airplane, rotorcraft helicopter, and glider aero tow ratings. In addition, the pilot held a flight instructor certificate with a single-engine land rating, which was issued on January 24, 2007.
The pilot's logbook indicated he completed a biennial flight review on April 10, 2007. The last complete entry in the pilot's logbook was dated May 9, 2007. As of this entry, the logbook showed the pilot had a total of 18,030 hours of flight time; approximately 7,380 hours of which were in turbine powered airplanes. The logbook indicated the pilot had accumulated approximately 17,210 hours of agricultural operation flight time.
The pilot held a second-class medical certificate, which was issued on April 2, 2007. The medical certificate contained the limitation, "Holder must possess glasses for near vision."
The accident airplane was an Air Tractor AT-402A, serial number 402A-0869. The airplane held a Special Airworthiness Certificate with a Restricted category for Agricultural and Pest Control operations. The airplane was equipped with a 715 horsepower, turboprop Pratt and Whitney PT6-27 engine, serial number 52418.
Maintenance records indicate the last annual inspection on the airplane was conducted on January 25, 2007, at an aircraft total time of 4,519.1 hours. The engine logbook indicates the engine received a 100-hour inspection on January 25, 2007. The aircraft total time at the accident was 4,745 hours.
A weather observation station, located at the Marshalltown Municipal Airport (MIW), Marshalltown, Iowa, about 17 nautical miles north of the accident site, recorded the weather at 1253 as being: Wind from 260 degrees at 12 knots, 10 miles visibility, scattered clouds at 4,200 feet, temperature 31 degrees Celsius, dew point 20 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 29.90 inches of Mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane was found in an open grass area next to a dry riverbed near one of the fields that was to be sprayed. The surrounding terrain sloped downward to the riverbed then began to slope upward. The airplane impacted the terrain where it began to slope upward.
According to Federal Aviation Administration Inspectors who conducted the on scene examination, the ground scars and debris path indicated the airplane contacted the ground in a slight right wing nose down attitude. The airplane then cartwheeled with the right wing contacting the terrain prior to sliding to a stop alongside a cornfield. A clean slice in the dirt was visible near the area where the airplane cartwheeled.
The propeller separated from the engine and was located near the main wreckage. One propeller blade that remained attached to the propeller hub was bent back and twisted. Another blade that separated from the hub was also twisted. The engine remained attached to its mounts. The burner case on the engine contained evidence of twisting on the outside of the case.
The engine was pushed rearward. The floor of the cockpit sustained severe crush damage. The left wing was relatively intact. The right wing was bent upward and crushed with the more extensive damage being on the outboard section of the wing. Flight control continuity of the rudder and elevator were established. Aileron continuity was established to the extent possible given the impact damage.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner, in Ankeny, Iowa, on July 17, 2007. The final autopsy report listed the cause of death as "Multiple blunt force injuries."
A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The results for tests performed were negative.
The airplane was equipped with a Satloc M3 guidance system. The data card was retrieved from the wreckage and sent to Hemisphere GPS Air Products for download. Hemisphere GPS Air Products reported there was no usable data on the card for the accident flight.