The pilot reported that, before conducting an aerial application flight near Hartington, Nebraska, he changed the oil in the Cessna A188.
After refueling and loading the plane with chemicals, he departed.
Shortly after takeoff, the windshield became covered with oil, which limited the pilot’s visibility. He turned the airplane left toward a grass runway. He did not dump the chemical load, and the airplane had a low airspeed and began to lose altitude.
The pilot was not able to attain a climb, so he chose to conduct a forced landing in a cornfield near the end of the runway, during which the wing sustained substantial damage.
The pilot reported the reason oil covered the windshield was that he had not reinstalled the oil cap after changing the oil. He added that he “had gotten out of …his routine” while performing the oil change and that ”complacency” and being in a “hurry were also some factors” in the accident.
Probable Cause: The pilot’s failure to ensure that the engine oil cap was installed before takeoff, which resulted in the oil obscuring the pilot’s view through the windshield and necessitated a forced landing on unsuitable terrain. Contributing to the accident were the pilot’s complacency and self-induced pressure to complete the flight.
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This July 2020 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.