Thursday, February 21, 2019

Piper PA18-150, registered to the pilot and operated by Gothenburg Flying Service Inc, N4234Z: Accident occurred May 24, 2016 in Cozad, Dawson County, Nebraska

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

Additional Participating Entity: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lincoln, Nebraska

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Cozad, NE
Accident Number: CEN16LA193
Date & Time: 05/24/2016, 1010 CDT
Registration: N4234Z
Aircraft: PIPER PA 18-150
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On May 24, 2016, about 1010 central daylight time, a Piper PA-18-150, N4234Z, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Cozad, Nebraska. The pilot sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to the pilot and was operated by Gothenburg Flying Service, Inc., under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an agricultural application flight. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed and no flight plan had not been filed. The local flight departed Fiese Airstrip (2NE5), Gothenburg, Nebraska, about 1000.

The pilot said he had just finished purging the spray booms of air and rinsate and was flying 25 feet above the ground when the airplane suddenly made an uncommand descent. The right wing struck the flat wheat field and the airplane skidded to a stop, coming to rest inverted about 120 feet from the initial point of impact. There was substantial damage to both wings, wing struts, fuselage, and tail surfaces.

The airplane had recently been rebuilt. The pilot/owner noted multiple discrepancies with the airplane following delivery. One discrepancy was that the jackscrew and drive pulley assembly for the horizontal stabilizer were not replaced as he had requested. He noted that the jackscrew assembly was worn and there was excessive slack in the drive cable. Pitch trim had to be constantly adjusted as a result. The builder had told the pilot that the assembly had been "tightened up." The pilot stated that this was not possible as the screw was made of steel and the housing was made of aluminum. The FAA conducted examinations of the airplane following the accident and noted play in the jackscrew assembly, but determined the slack was insufficient to cause the screw to slip. No other mechanical issues were found with the airplane.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 69, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/12/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 09/04/2015
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 6397 hours (Total, all aircraft), 100016 hours (Total, this make and model), 639710 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 7 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 6 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: PIPER
Registration: N4234Z
Model/Series: PA 18-150
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1966
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 18-8460
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/15/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1750 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 7 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 5607 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: O-320-A2B
Registered Owner: Larry J Fiese
Rated Power: 160 hp
Operator: Gothenburg Flying Service, Inc.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137)
Operator Does Business As: Gothenburg Flying Service, Inc.
Operator Designator Code: OG6G

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KLXN, 2413 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1015 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 143°
Lowest Cloud Condition:  / 1000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 1000 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 9 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 180°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.92 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 20°C / 17°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Gothenburg, NE (2NE5)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Gothenburg, NE (2NE5)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1000 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Fiese Airstrip (2NE5)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 2535 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 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 40.947778, -99.930833 (est)

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA193
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Tuesday, May 24, 2016 in Cozad, NE
Aircraft: PIPER PA 18-150, registration: N4234Z
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 May 24, 2016, about 1025 central daylight time, a Piper PA-18-150 single-engine airplane, N4234Z, was substantially damaged after it impacted terrain during en route cruise near Cozad, Nebraska. The pilot sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to a private individual and was operated by Gothenburg Flying Service, Inc., as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 agricultural application flight. Low visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed and a flight plan had not been filed. The airplane had earlier departed from Fiese Airstrip (2NE5), Gothenburg, Nebraska, for the local flight.

The pilot reported he was flying at less than 50 feet above ground level (agl) when the airplane suddenly made an uncommanded descent. The right wingtip impacted terrain in a flat wheat field and the airplane came to rest inverted about 120 feet from the initial impact location. The impact resulted in substantial damage to both wings, both wing struts, the fuselage, and the tail surfaces. The pilot was able to exit the airplane without assistance and reported there had been adequate fuel onboard. There was no fuel spill and no postimpact fire.

The closest official weather reporting station was at KLXN, Lexington, Nebraska; located 12 miles southeast from the accident location at an elevation of 2,413 feet agl. At 1015 the automated surface observation system at KLXN reported wind from 180 degrees at 9 knots, visibility 10 miles, broken clouds at 1,000 feet above ground level, temperature 20 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 17 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.92 inches of mercury.

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