Sunday, September 9, 2018

Air Tractor AT-602, registered to and operated by Wilbur-Ellis Company, N4196Y: Fatal accident occurred June 29, 2017 in Stirum, North Dakota

John C. Goerger, 44, Barney, North Dakota.

John Carl Goerger, born Sept. 18, 1972 joined the heavenly ranks on the morning of June 29th, 2017. Before he could ride a bike, John was already thinking flight.  His dad recalled the first time John got in a plane with him.

John was an accomplished pilot; but that doesn’t even begin to describe the amazing heart he had. John was the father of three beautiful children, Ethan, Michael and Lucinda. He loved them with every ounce of his being. As attentive of a father he was, he found more in his heart to share with the love of his life, his wife Cathryn. The two absolutely embodied the concept of soulmates and loved each other completely.

This Dad of three, who loved adventure, who loved flight and respected the rules and art of flying.  John was a very generous spirit and would give anything and everything to his friends and family.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fargo, North Dakota
Air Tractor Inc; Olney, Texas

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N4196Y



Location: Stirum, ND
Accident Number: CEN17LA244
Date & Time: 06/29/2017, 0740 CDT
Registration: N4196Y
Aircraft: AIR TRACTOR INC AT 602
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: VFR encounter with IMC
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On June 29, 2017, about 0740 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT602 airplane, N4196Y, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with terrain near Stirum, North Dakota. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Wilbur-Ellis Company as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 aerial application flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the vicinity of the accident site. The flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Lisbon Municipal Airport (6L3), Lisbon, North Dakota, about 0700.

An employee of the operator reported that the airplane was loaded about 0500. However, the flight was delayed about two hours while the pilot waited for the local weather conditions to improve. The pilot had spoken with individuals by phone before the flight to assess the local weather conditions. The employee noted that flying was limited to mornings in the days before the accident due to afternoon wind conditions. At the time of departure, the visibility was about 1-1/2 miles with overcast clouds, a light wind, and no precipitation.

A witness reported that she was sitting on her patio when she heard the airplane. The sound of the engine was normal, "not anything unusual at all." She observed the airplane emerge from the fog heading east and "within seconds" impact the ground. The airplane was level or descending slightly and did not appear to change its flight path before impacting gradually rising terrain. She noted that the airplane did not appear to be out of control, nor did it seem that anything was wrong mechanically. She recalled that it was "very, very foggy" at the time, adding that she was just able to make out the outline of a prominent tree about 200 yards from the patio. There was no precipitation and little or no wind at the time.

A second witness at the same location recalled hearing the airplane but did not see it. From the sound of the engine, the airplane seemed to be heading northeast toward Lisbon. It was "quite foggy" at the time; although, the fog had lifted somewhat from earlier in the morning. He estimated that at the time of the accident there was about 200 feet of relatively good visibility below the fog/cloud layer. He noted that the ground rises gradually approaching his property from the west; the elevation is approximately 56 ft lower about 1/2 mile west of his house.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 44, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Single
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 5-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/01/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:   15000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 245 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft)



Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: AIR TRACTOR INC
Registration: N4196Y
Model/Series: AT 602 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 602-1183
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/02/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 12500 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 123 Hours
Engines: 1 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time: 4278.4 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt & Whitney Canada
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: PT6A-60AG
Registered Owner: Wilbur Ellis Co
Rated Power: 1113 hp
Operator:  Wilbur Ellis Co
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  Agricultural Aircraft (137) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: GWR, 1266 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0735 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 91°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility:  9 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 500 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Calm /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.79 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 16°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Lisbon, ND (6L3)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Lisbon, ND (6L3)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0700 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

An airmen's meteorological information (AIRMET) advisory for instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions was in effect at the time of the accident. The accident site was located within, but near the southwestern extent, of the advisory area. The area forecast current at the time of the accident predicted broken clouds at 2,000 ft mean sea level and a visibility of 3 to 5 miles in mist until 1000 for eastern North Dakota.

There was no record of the pilot obtaining a preflight weather briefing through Lockheed Martin Flight Service, the Direct User Access Terminal Service (DUATS), or Foreflight. However, it is possible that the pilot obtained weather information from a commercial service that did not track the activity to a particular pilot or aircraft.

Airport Information

Airport: Lisbon Airport (6L3)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 1241 ft
Runway Surface Condition:
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing:  None

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: 46.219722, -97.830278

The airplane impacted a soybean field about 14 miles west-southwest of 6L3. No obstacles such as large trees, power lines, or transmission towers were located in the immediate vicinity of the accident site. The main wreckage came to rest about 150 ft from the initial ground impact crater; the overall debris field was approximately 280 ft long. Ground marks consistent in appearance with propeller slashes were located near the impact point. A ground depression and impact scar were located immediately adjacent to the impact crater. The depression appeared consistent with being formed by the right main landing gear. The right aileron counterweight was separated and embedded into the ground near the end of the impact mark.

A postaccident examination was conducted by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors, assisted by a representative of the airframe manufacturer. No anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction were observed. A detailed summary of the examination is included with the docket material associated with this accident investigation. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The University of North Dakota Forensic Pathology Office, Grand Forks, North Dakota, performed an autopsy of the pilot. The pilot's death was attributed to blunt force trauma sustained in the accident.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens of the pilot. Testing was negative for all substances in the testing profile.

Additional Information

In response to the accident, the National Agricultural Aviation Association issued an advisory to member operators as part of the Fly Safe Campaign. The advisory warned pilots regarding the hazards of low-level instrument conditions and the importance of a thorough preflight weather briefing.


John Carl Goerger

NTSB Identification: CEN17LA244
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Thursday, June 29, 2017 in Stirum, ND
Aircraft: AIR TRACTOR INC AT 602, registration: N4196Y
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On June 29, 2017, about 0740 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT602 airplane, N4196Y, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with terrain near Stirum, North Dakota. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Wilbur-Ellis Company as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 aerial application flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the vicinity of the accident site. The flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Lisbon Municipal Airport (6L3), Lisbon, North Dakota, about 0700.

Witnesses reported fog in the area, with little or no wind, at the time of the accident. Two witnesses observed the airplane flying low shortly before the accident. As they watched, the airplane descended toward the terrain and they heard the sound of the impact. They estimated that the accident site was about 1/4 mile from their location and added that this was near the extent of the visibility at that time due to the fog.

The airplane impacted a soybean field about 14 miles west-southwest of 6L3. The debris field was approximately 280 ft long by 170 ft wide. The airframe was fragmented, with portions of all control surfaces observed in the debris field. The engine separated from the airframe, and the propeller assembly separated from the engine. Both were located at the accident site. Ground marks consistent in appearance with propeller slashes were located near the initial impact point. The elevation of the accident site was about 1,350 ft.

An airmen's meteorological information (AIRMET) advisory for instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions was in effect at the time of the accident. The accident site located within, but near the southwestern extent, of the advisory area. The current area forecast pred

 icted broken clouds at 2,000 ft mean sea level and visibilities of 3 to 5 miles in mist until 1000 for eastern North Dakota. Weather conditions recorded by the Gwinner Airport (GWR) automated weather observing system, located about 8 miles east of the accident site, at 0735, included calm wind, 9 miles visibility, and overcast clouds at 500 ft above ground level.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another tied the record for lowest flight attempt.