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N5850G accident description

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Crash location 35.184444°N, 88.895277°W
Nearest city Middleton, TN
35.064532°N, 88.890892°W
8.3 miles away
Tail number N5850G
Accident date 27 Aug 2014
Aircraft type Cessna A188B
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On August 27, 2014, about 0850 central daylight time, a Cessna A188B, N5850G, collided with high voltage power lines and terrain during aerial application operations near Middleton, Tennessee. The commercial pilot received fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was operated under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 137 by the pilot. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local, aerial application flight, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated at Bolivar, Tennessee (M08) at 0724.

Reportedly, the pilot was in the process of applying chemical to a soybean field when the accident occurred. There were no witnesses to the accident. The airplane struck high voltage power lines that were about 20 feet above the ground, severing about one-half of the right wing. The airplane then collided with the ground and came to rest in a wooded area adjacent to the field.


The pilot, age 73, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane, single engine land ratings. He reported 5,370 hours of total flight time on his latest FAA second class medical certificate application, dated June 12, 2014. His pilot logbooks were not located after the accident.


The accident airplane was a Cessna A188B model that was manufactured in 1973. The low-wing, fixed landing gear, tailwheel-equipped airplane was fitted with a Continental IO-520-FcD engine rated at 285 horsepower at 2,700 rpm. The engine was equipped with a McCauley D2A34C two bladed, constant speed propeller.

The airplane was owned by the pilot. The airframe and engine maintenance records were not located after the accident. The FAA inspector reported that the pilot, who was also an airframe and powerplant mechanic, performed the maintenance on the airplane.


McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport, Jackson, Tennessee was located about 25 nautical miles (nm) north of the accident site. The airport elevation was about 434 feet msl. The 0853 surface weather observation (about 2 minutes after the accident) included a clear sky, wind calm, visibility 10 statute miles or greater, temperature 26 degrees C, dew point 22 degrees C, and altimeter setting 30.10 inches of mercury.


A Garmin GPSMAP 76 hand-portable GPS unit was recovered from the wreckage. The outer case exhibited minor damage. The unit was forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Laboratory for examination and data download. The data extracted without difficulty and included 16 sessions from August 23, 2014 through September 2, 2014. The accident flight was recorded starting 12:24:47 UTC and ending at 13:51:09 UTC on August 27, 2014. The device remained at the crash location and continued recording from 13:51:09 UTC to 03:22:12 UTC on August 28, 2014. Data parameters provided by the GPS device included date, time, latitude, longitude, and GPS Altitude.

According to the data, the flight departed the M08 at approximately 0724. The airplane flew multiple passes on a field to the west of the accident site. The airplane was then observed in level flight on a northerly heading at 0850:34, when it crossed the east-west power line at 111 knots ground speed and about 472 feet GPS altitude. The ground elevation at the location of the power line was about 363 feet. Due to the battery on the GPS unit, the data recording may have continued after the accident event.


The airplane struck high voltage power lines at coordinates 35°10'57.16"N, 088°53'45.38"W. The severed outboard half of the right wing was found on the ground below the power lines. The wreckage debris path was oriented on a 030 degree heading and was about 285 feet in length. The debris path ended with the engine and propeller. The engine broke free of its mounts during the impact sequence and came to rest about 70 to 80 feet beyond the main wreckage. Several tree limbs were found along the debris field with smooth, 45-degree cuts.

Flight control cable continuity was established for the elevators and rudder, and for the ailerons through multiple cable separations consistent with overload. The elevator trim indicator was near full nose up. The flap handle was found in the retracted position.

The fuel tank was breached. It contained blue-colored fuel that tested negative for water contamination.

Impact damage was observed on the engine, most notably to the front and bottom sides. All six cylinders remained attached to the case. Both left and right magnetos remained attached to the case. They were removed and examined. When spun by hand, both impulse couplings operated normally and a spark was noted on all posts. Examination of the spark plugs revealed normal wear and deposits when compared to a Champion inspection chart.

The fuel pump exhibited impact damage. It was removed from the engine and examined. The drive coupling was intact and the pump drive operated normally when rotated by hand. All fuel injectors remained installed in their respective cylinders. When removed and examined, no blockages were found. Other than impact damage, no anomalies were noted with the throttle body metering unit and the fuel manifold valve.

The engine crankshaft was rotated by hand and compression and suction was observed on all 6 cylinders. Internal engine continuity was confirmed. Valve, rocker arm, and connecting rod operation was normal. Internal examination of the cylinders with a borescope revealed normal operating signatures.

The propeller remained attached to the propeller flange and the flange remained attached to the crankshaft. Both blades remained attached to the hub. One of the blades displayed twisting deformation and polishing of the leading edge and tip. The other blade was bent aft, twisted, and exhibited gouges in the training edge.


A postmortem examination of the pilot was performed at the Office of the Medical Examiner, West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center, Memphis, Tennessee on August 28, 2014. The autopsy report noted the cause of death as "Multiple blunt force injuries" and the manner of death was "Accident."

Autopsy found evidence of moderate coronary atherosclerosis with right dominant pattern with atherosclerotic narrowing of 50-60% in the left anterior descending coronary artery and 50% in the right coronary artery. There was no fresh clot or evidence of an old or a recent heart attack. There was diffuse atherosclerosis in the blood vessels of the

brain, but again with no significant acute findings.

Forensic toxicology testing was performed on specimens of the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The CAMI toxicology report indicated negative for carbon monoxide in the blood and ethanol in the urine. Testing for cyanide was not performed. Amlodipine was detected in the liver, blood, and urine. Hydrochlorothiazide and triamterene were detected in the urine and blood.

Triamterene (Dyrenium®) is a potassium-sparing diuretic used in combination with thiazide (hydrochlorothiazide) diuretics for the treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure) and edema. Hydrochlorothiazide (multiple brand names) is a commonly used diuretic for blood pressure control. Amlodipne (multiple brand names) is a calcium channel blocker used alone or in combination with other medications to control hypertension. According to the FAA, these medications would not necessarily be considered hazards; however, they must be disclosed and an appropriate hypertension workup submitted to the FAA. The pilot did not declare any medications on his latest FAA medical certificate application.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot’s failure to see and avoid power lines during a low-level aerial application operation.

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