Saturday, August 18, 2018

Air Tractor AT-502B, registered to and operated by Lutes Flying Service Inc, N502RL: Fatal accident occurred August 18, 2018 in Bronson, Branch County, Michigan

Phillip Percy Kwock-Wai Ching
AUGUST 15, 1992 ~ AUGUST 18, 2018 (AGE 26)

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Grand Rapids, Michigan
Air Tractor, Inc; Olney, Texas

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Bronson, MI
Accident Number: CEN18FA339
Date & Time: 08/18/2018, 1730 EDT
Registration: N502RL
Aircraft: Air Tractor AT502
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On August 18, 2018, about 1730 eastern daylight time, an Air Tractor 502B, N502RL, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering during an aerial application flight near Bronson, Michigan. The pilot was fatally injured. The aircraft was registered to and operated by Lutes Flying Service, Inc. under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an aerial application flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Wolfe Field Airport (IN65), near Shipshewana, Indiana, at an unconfirmed time.

A witness who was located about 0.4 miles and 150 degrees from the accident site reported seeing the accident. He stated that the airplane was making turns near his location in conjunction with spraying operations in a nearby field. The witness stated that he saw the airplane complete a spray pass to the east and then pulled up into a near vertical attitude, after which, the airplane then became inverted.The airplane then descended straight down and was starting to pull up when it hit the ground.

The airplane came to rest upright in a soybean field facing about 340 degrees. The wings, fuselage, tail, and all control surfaces were present at the accident site in their normal locations. The forward fuselage and the leading edges of both wings exhibited aft and upward crushing indicative of a nose low impact with the ground. Both main landing gear hand been torn from the fuselage and were found beneath the wreckage. The wing remained in one piece with the flaps and ailerons still attached. The fuselage was predominately intact with the previously noted crushing damage to the forward fuselage. The tail surfaces were located in their correct positions. The vertical stabilizer was still attached to the fuselage and the rudder was attached by the lower 2 hinges. The upper half or the rudder was bent to the left about 90 degrees. The left and right horizontal stabilizers were partially separated from the fuselage at the spar attachments. The elevators remained attached to the stabilizers.

The airplane's control system was examined. Continuity of the elevator control system was verified from the control stick in the cockpit aft to the elevator control surfaces. The rudder control cables were found to be intact from each of the rudder pedals in the cockpit aft to the rudder control surface. The aileron controls were examined and the mixing system for the drooping aileron system incurred impact damage and several of the control pushrods housed in the lower fuselage exhibited bending due to impact; however, no preimpact anomalies with regard to the aileron control system was observed. Measurement of the flap actuator corresponded to about 5 degrees of flap deflection.

The airplane's engine was a Pratt & Whitney model PT6A-34AG turboprop engine, turning a three blade propeller. The engine was broken in half at the "F" flange. The exposed broke shaft revealed fracture surfaces with 45 degree shear lips indicative of overload failure. One propeller blade was visible above the ground and remained attached to the hub. The remaining two blades were found buried beneath the engine. One of the buried blades remained attached to the hub while the other was separated. The separated blade showed chordwise scratching and a deep gouge in the leading edge a portion of the blade tip was separated.

Upon removal of the airplane from the site, an wing impact imprint was found in the soil beneath the wing about 2 ft. aft of the wing leading edge. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Air Tractor
Registration: N502RL
Model/Series: AT502 B
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Lutes Flying Service Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: IRS, 925 ft msl
Observation Time: 2135 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 14 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 17°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots / , 330°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.96 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Shipshewana, IN (IN65)
Destination: Shipshewana, IN (IN65)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 41.843056, -85.119167

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Phillip Percy Kwock-Wai Ching age 26, of Elsie, MI, passed away Saturday, August 18, 2018.

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, September 1, 2018 at the Owosso Community Airport at 1:00 pm.  With refreshments to follow.

Phillip was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 15, 1992, the son of Radford and Cindy (Moore) Ching.  Phillip graduated from Ovid-Elsie High School with the class of 2010. He received a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University.

He is survived by his parents Radford and Cindy Ching, fiancĂ©e Mya Hall, brothers: Robert Ching and David Ching, and grandparents: Percy and Eleanor Ching. He is also survived by many aunts and uncles.  He was preceded in death by grandparents Bob and Doris Moore.

Online condolences can be sent to The family is being served by Smith Family Funeral Homes, Elsie, MI.

A 25-year old crop duster pilot died Saturday afternoon in a crash in a soybean field in Bethel Township.

Michigan State Police identified the pilot as Phillip Ching of Elsie, Mich. He was the lone occupant of the small single-engine plane. Ching likely died on impact, according to MSP, but an autopsy was set to be performed Sunday.

Witnesses said the plane was spraying the bean field east of Snow Prairie Road, just north of Hatmaker Road, swooping low at about 20 feet over the crop when it did not pull up and hit the ground. The crash occurred around 5:30 p.m.

Bronson Fire Medical First Responders went into the field to attempt a rescue. Michigan State Police were called to investigate the death. Troopers notified the Federal Aviation Agency and the National Transportation Safety Board which will look into the crash.

A trooper with Michigan State Police said the plane is owned by Lutes Flying Services, of Shipshewana, Ind. Ching was staying in Middlebury, Ind., for the summer working for Lutes.

The plane was seen in western Branch and St. Joseph counties on a regular basis spraying numerous crops, including potato fields. The pilot used GPS to set up spray patterns.

Witnesses at the adjacent farm told investigators Ching had made one pass then pulled up and looped around and was diving for another pass when the plane hit the ground. Federal officials will try to determine the cause of the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤

BETHEL TOWNSHIP, Mich. —  The Federal Aviation Administration is en route to a bean field in a rural section of Branch County, where a crop-dusting plane crashed late Saturday afternoon – killing the pilot.

Sergeant Todd Price with the Michigan State Police Marshall Post tells FOX 17 the single-seat/single-engine plane went down in the middle of a bean field, between 5:35 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. The location is near Kosmerick and Clearwater roads in Bethel Township, which is east of the City of Bronson and west of I-69.

Witnesses told police the plane was trying to negotiate a turn to dust another row of crops when it went down. Sergeant Price says the pilot -25-year-old Phillip Ching of Middlebury, Indiana – was killed, and nobody on the ground was injured. Police say Ching was originally licensed out of Ellis Township, Michigan.

The airplane flew out of Lutes Flying Service in Shipshewana, Indiana, according to Price, who said the family of the pilot has already been notified.

“An autopsy will be conducted. The FAA is en route to the scene, and the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) will be investigating.”

There was no early indication what caused the crash.

According to The Daily Reporter, “Witnesses said the pilot was diving, spraying the field from about 20 feet when it hit the ground. Bronson Fire responded…..The plane was just visible about half a mile south of Hatmaker Road, and half a mile north of Kosmerick, east of Snow Prairie…”.

Original article can be found here ➤

BETHEL TOWNSHIP Mich. (WOOD) -- A 25-year-old man was killed when he crashed the crop duster he was flying Saturday afternoon.

The incident happened in a bean field northeast of Kosmerick Rd. and S. Snow Prairie Rd. in Bethel Township, southeast of Bronson, just after 5:30 p.m.

Michigan State Police say the victim was crop-dusting the field when he crashed.

"He was flying east, went to make his turn, and struck the ground," MSP Sgt. Todd Price told 24 Hour News 8. "It appears he must have died upon impact."

Price said witnesses called 911 to report the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Board were headed to the scene to investigate the crash.

The victim is from Middlebury, Indiana. He worked for Lutes Flying Service Inc., based in Shipshewana, Indiana. His name was not immediately released.

Original article can be found here ➤

BRONSON, Mich. — Michigan State Police are currently on-scene investigating after a body was pulled from a crop duster plane following a crash in a field near the intersection of Kosmerick and South Snow Prarie roads just outside of Bronson around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18.

A source close to the investigation said MSP troopers were dispatched to the field around 5:47 p.m. and have since declared 25-year-old Phillip Ching of Elsie, Michigan as the single deceased occupant of the plane. A press release from MSP said Ching likely died on impact, but an autopsy is set to be performed on Sunday.

Witnesses told investigators that Ching was working to turn into another row of crops when the plane went down into the field. Officials confirm Ching was working on chemical application of the crops. The family has been notified, but a cause has yet to be determined.

A trooper with Michigan State Police said the plane is owned by Lutes Flying Services, which is based out of Shipshewana, Indiana. Ching was staying in Middlebury, Indiana for the summer working for Lutes.

The crash remained under investigation by MSP and the Federal Aviation Administration. Bronson Fire and Lifecare Ambulance assisted on the scene. The National Transportation Safety Board will be on scene tomorrow to continue the investigation. 

Original article can be found here ➤

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