After completing an aerial application flight, the commercial pilot was returning to the base airport over 15 nautical miles away when the Air Tractor AT-502 hit terrain near West, Texas, and was consumed by a post-impact fire. The pilot died in the crash.
Although the wreckage was significantly fragmented and damaged by fire, no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures of the airframe or engine were noted that would have precluded normal operation.
Examination of the accident site and wreckage revealed cellular tower guy wire and right wing damage that was consistent with the pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from the guy wires while intentionally flying at a low altitude in visual meteorological conditions.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to see and avoid cellular tower guy wires. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s decision to operate at low altitude.
NTSB Identification: CEN16LA181
This May 2016 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.