According to the pilot, during a low altitude agricultural aerial application flight he observed a glitch in the satellite navigation system. He attempted to identify the glitch and his attention was focused inside the Air Tractor’s cockpit.
While focused inside the cockpit, he heard and felt the corn stalks that he was spraying strike the airplane. He then looked outside the cockpit and “observed a slight rise in terrain,” so he increased throttle and pulled back on the stick.
However, the airplane descended into the cornfield near Bird Island, Minnesota, yawed to the right, hit the ground and came to rest inverted.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings, fuselage, and the empennage.
Probable cause: The pilot’s diverted attention inside the cockpit and failure to maintain the airplane’s altitude while maneuvering at a low altitude, resulting in an impact with terrain.
NTSB Identification: GAA16CA399
This July 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.