N9040V accident descriptionGo to the Oregon map...
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|Accident date||March 13, 2000|
|Aircraft type||Weatherly 620B|
On March 13, 2000, approximately 1002 Pacific standard time, a Weatherly 620B, N9040V, hit a tree and subsequently impacted terrain during an aerial application run 1 mile east of Odell, Oregon. A fire and explosion erupted upon ground impact. The aircraft was destroyed in the accident, and the commercial pilot of the single-seat agricultural aircraft was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions were reported and no flight plan had been filed for the 14 CFR 137 local aerial application flight, which had departed from Hood River, Oregon.
According to the Hood River County, Oregon, Sheriff's Office report on the accident (attached), witnesses reported that after spraying a block of pears in an east-west direction, the pilot made a north-to-south spray pass along the eastern boundary of the pear block. This pass was made toward sharply rising terrain (the sheriff's report stated that one witness, described in the report as "a highly experienced agricultural pilot and long time employee of...the company that the accident pilot had recently purchased", stated that he had advised the accident pilot against spraying the spot where the accident occurred from north to south "due to the technical difficulty that the terrain presented.") The witnesses reported that during the north-to-south pass, the aircraft struck a tree at the south side of the orchard and began coming apart. A witness reported that following the initial tree impact, "The aircraft continued climbing up the side of the hill, southward, striking more trees and [losing] more wing as it went." One of the witnesses also reported that during the accident sequence, "the accident pilot never reduced power on the engine and...it was generating full power until final impact." The aircraft subsequently impacted terrain and, according to one witness, immediately burst into flames on impact. The sheriff's report noted that at the time the responding officer observed the wreckage, "An intense post crash fire had completely consumed the engine, cargo and cockpit areas of the aircraft." (NOTE: Refer to the Hood River County Sheriff's Office report for a full description of the accident site and aircraft wreckage.)
The airplane was listed in the FAA aircraft registry as a 1997 model. The fatally injured pilot had just purchased the aircraft, and was operating under the previous owner's 14 CFR 137 operating certificate at the time of the accident. Registration was indicated as pending in the FAA aircraft registry, with the accident pilot's registration application being filed on January 1, 2000. According to copies of the aircraft and engine logbooks, the aircraft's last annual inspection was performed on September 1, 1999. At the time of the last annual inspection, the aircraft had 503.0 hours airframe total time, and its Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-14B engine had 503.0 hours since major overhaul.
The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and airplane single-engine sea ratings, and private privileges for helicopters. The date of issue of the pilot's certificate was listed in the FAA airman registry as November 25, 1996. The pilot also held a second-class medical certificate dated two days before the accident. On his most recent FAA medical certificate application, the pilot gave his total civil pilot time as 1,600 hours, with 180 hours in the past six months.
The 0953 METAR observation at Troutdale, Oregon, approximately 37 nautical miles west-southwest of Odell, gave weather conditions at Troutdale as: clear skies, 10 statute miles visibility, temperature 11 degrees C, dewpoint 3 degrees C, and winds from 100 degrees true at 16 knots, gusting to 23 knots. Weather conditions given in a preliminary FAA accident notification were: "winds calm high overcast with some breaks good visibility."
An autopsy on the pilot was performed by the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office, Portland, Oregon, on March 15, 2000. The autopsy report gave the cause of the pilot's death as "asphyxia due to inhalation of products of combustion", and noted "no evidence of significant anatomic injury."
Toxicological testing on the pilot was performed by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The CAMI toxicology tests detected 10% carboxyhemoglobin saturation in the pilot's blood, and did not detect cyanide, ethanol, or drugs in the pilot.