ERA09LA258
ERA09LA258

On April 23, 2009, about 1000 eastern daylight time, a Cessna A188B, N4789Q, operated by A & C Ag Aviation Inc., was substantially damaged while landing at a private airstrip near Pinehurst, Georgia. The certificated commercial pilot was killed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the aerial application flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137. The flight originated from the private airstrip about 0800.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector stated that after spraying for mosquitoes, the pilot returned for landing. The airplane approached the north runway, a 2,600-foot-long, 100-foot-wide, turf runway. The airplane touched down long, toward the left side of the runway. The airplane traveled off the left side of the runway, impacted bushes, and came to rest inverted. The pilot was wearing harnesses and a helmet, but was found deceased at the scene.

A witness, who was flying in the area, knew the accident pilot. The witness stated that the accident pilot was on a left downwind leg for the north runway, and "waved his wings" at the witness's airplane. About 1 minute later, the witness heard the accident airplane engine rev to high rpm and the accident airplane made a "hard" left turn onto final approach. The witness thought that the engine rev and hard turn were uncharacteristic of the accident pilot, as he usually approached very "steady." The witness lost sight of the accident airplane on final approach, but thought that the pilot must have been experiencing some sort of difficultly to be flying in the manner that he was. The witness further stated that the wind was from the west at 5 to 7 mph at the time of the accident.

The single-seat, low-wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number 18802531T, was manufactured in 1976. It was powered by a Continental Motors IO-520, 300-horsepower engine. Review of the airplane's engine logbook revealed that an annual inspection was completed on March 28, 2009, at a total airframe time of 10,477 hours. At the time of the inspection, the engine had accumulated 1,402 hours of operation since major overhaul.

Examination of the wreckage by the FAA inspector did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions. Fuel was present in both fuel tanks and some had leaked out while the airplane was inverted. The wreckage was righted, and 5 gallons of fuel was added to the left wing fuel tank. The engine was then started and ran continuously to 2,500 rpm.

The pilot, age 73, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and airplane multiengine land. His most recent second-class medical certificate was issued on January 19, 2009. At that time, the pilot reported a total flight experience of 15,000 hours. The pilot also indicated “No” to all items under “Medical History,” including specifically “Heart or vascular trouble.” The pilot’s spouse indicated she was not aware of any personal or family history of heart disease for the pilot.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the State of Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Forensic Sciences Division, on April 29, 2009. The autopsy report noted the cause of death as "blunt force trauma to the neck." The report also noted, “The heart weighs 570 grams…The left ventricular wall and the muscular interventricular septum are each 1.3 cm thick. The right ventricular wall thickness is 0.4 cm. …”

Toxicological testing was performed on the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The results were negative for drugs and alcohol.

The reported weather at an airport located about 30 miles southwest of the accident site, at 0953, included few clouds at 1,300 feet, visibility 7 miles, and wind from 170 degrees at 6 knots.

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