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N48624 accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Hazelton, ND
46.516656°N, 100.217056°W

Tail number N48624
Accident date 10 Aug 2001
Aircraft type Grumman G-164B
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On August 10, 2001, at 1943 central daylight time, a Grumman G-164B, N48624, operated by Mattern Spray Service, was destroyed by impact forces and fire when it impacted terrain. The pilot received fatal injuries. The 14 CFR Part 137 aerial application flight was landing at the Hazelton Airport (6H8), Hazelton, North Dakota, in order to put on more chemical. Witnesses reported the airplane flew over runway 35 (2,500 feet by 125 feet, turf) and then pulled into a steep vertical climb. The airplane then nosed over and impacted the terrain in a steep nose down attitude. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from 6H8 at 1900.

One witness reported, "I was standing on the north end of the runway at Hazelton N.D. The pilot of the aircraft approached the runway from the South going North. I thought he was going to land but flew by appearing to be at full power as he neared the north end of the runway he pulled up sharply to avoid power line on north end of runway. He started his turn to the left I'm estimating 150 to 200 feet. The plain [plane] seem to stall + fell almost straight down. Instant explosion on impact."

Another witness reported, "Pilot was approaching runway from the south. Was about 30 ft above the ground flew past the filling station and started to climb straight up in the air. Plane was as full throttle climbed for a few seconds and started to turn left I think he was just about vertical when he started to turn went into the turn and the motor lost power. Fell straight to the ground and a small fire started. I drove across the highway to see if I could get him out and plane exploded."

A third witness reported, "I happened to notice a spray plane go across my skyline fairly low to the ground. He was quite low, I thought he was coming in for a landing and I thought he was going to circle around and land going south but as he crossed Highway 34 towards the north it was just like he went up or made a bank for just a second or two and then it was just like someone dropped him out of the air straight into the ground. Instant huge ball of fire and black smoke." He further stated, "Intense flames lasted less than 5 minutes. Landed on its nose and stood there for maybe 5 or 10 seconds and then it settled back down on its wheels."


The commercial pilot held airplane single and multi-engine land and instrument ratings. He was a Certified Flight Instructor in single engine airplanes. He held a Second Class Medical Certificate issued on January 1, 2001. The pilot reported his total flight time was 1,400 hours at his last medical exam.


The airplane was a single engine Grumman G-164B Ag-Cat bi-plane, serial number 88B. The engine was a 450 horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-985 engine.


At 1952, the observed weather in Bismarck, North Dakota, located about 30 nautical miles northwest of the accident site, were: Winds 150 at 8 knots, sky clear, visibility 10 miles, temperature 25 degrees C, dew point 13 degrees C, altimeter 30.00.


The airplane wreckage was located about 150 feet north of the approach end of runway 17 and about 200 feet west of the runway centerline. The wreckage was located in a commercial lot that contained farm machinery. No damage had occurred to any of the farm machinery. The right upper wing structure came to rest against a piece of machinery. A post impact fire consumed much of the airplane's fuselage, cockpit, wings, and engine compartment.

The burned fuselage was found lying on the ground with its longitudinal axis oriented to the southeast. The engine and propeller impacted the ground and formed a crater. The engine mounts had broken and the engine was found lying about 90 degrees from the fuselage's longitudinal axis. Two ground scars that were the same length as the airplane's wings were found directly in front of the wreckage, and running parallel to the fuselage's longitudinal axis. A piece of the fiberglass right upper wingtip was found imbedded vertically in the ground directly in front of the wreckage. The right wing tips exhibited leading edge crush.

Flight control continuity was established to the ailerons, elevators, and rudder. Both ailerons were found in the extreme up position. One propeller blade was bent and the other blade was almost straight.

There were no indications of a mechanical malfunction to the airplane prior to the impact.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the North Dakota Department of Health in Bismarck, North Dakota.

A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute. The results were negative.


A FAA Operations Inspector reported that a witness, who had been loading the airplane with chemicals, reported that on several occasions the pilot had been observed "hot-dogging." The witness reported that one incident involved the pilot landing to the south and passing under the powerlines. A mature crop of corn had been growing under the powerlines, which left about 15 to 20 feet of clearance. The witness reported that type of flying was not uncommon.

The FAA was a party to the investigation.

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