The pilot had already completed several aerial application flights and was in the process of spraying product on a field near Clayton, Louisiana, when the accident happened.
Witnesses stated that the Air Tractor AT-502A had just completed a spray pass and was in the process of turning around. During the turn, the airplane pitched up and rolled left into a steep bank so that the wings were almost upside down.
One witness stated that it looked like the pilot “didn’t pull out of a barrel roll.”
The airplane “fell out of the sky” and hit the ground inverted on a southeast heading.
A post-accident examination revealed ground impact marks from the outline of the wings, as the airplane hit the ground in a wings-level, inverted attitude. The wing fuel tanks were found breached, and a significant amount of fuel was noted in the dirt under the airplane. The propeller blades were twisted and bent and partially buried in the ground.
Toxicology testing performed by the FAA’s Forensic Sciences Laboratory detected diphenhydramine in the pilot’s blood and urine. Diphenhydramine is a sedating antihistamine available over-the-counter in multiple cold and allergy products as well as sleep aids. Diphenhydramine can cause cognitive and psychomotor slowing and drowsiness. It typically carries a warning that it may impair performance of tasks like driving and operating heavy machinery. The FAA states that pilots should not fly within 60 hours of using diphenhydramine, to allow time for it to be eliminated from their systems.
Probable Cause: The pilot’s loss of airplane control resulting in an aerodynamic stall while executing a steep turnaround during an aerial application flight.
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This May 2021 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.
George S. says
Was the Ag Pilot injured? That is a pretty nasty crash.
Randy in NC says