A Witness Reported Observing White Smoking Coming From The Cockpit Prior To Impact

Location: Springfield, CO Accident Number: CEN20LA278
Date & Time: 07/10/2020, 1102 MDT Registration: N6917K
Aircraft: GRUMMAN G164 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural

On July 10, 2020, about 1102 mountain daylight time, a Schweizer Grumman G-164B airplane, N6917K, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Springfield, Colorado. The commercial pilot sustained fatal injuries and succumbed from his injuries on July 14, 2020. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 137 aerial application flight.

The pilot was enroute to Two Buttes, Colorado to perform a low-level aerial application flight in a rural area after departing from the Springfield Municipal Airport (8V7), Springfield, Colorado. An employee who worked for the operator doing ground loading operations, reported the airplane was loaded with 48.85 gallons of AgSaver Glyphosate herbicide, 15.62 gallons of Atarrus fertilizer, and 125 gallons of Kuglar KQ-XRN fertilizer. The airplane had about 85 gallons of fuel onboard. He reported the pilot was having trouble with the “top wing tank containing the fertilizer.” The chemical would foam over onto the windshield of the airplane. The pilot had returned to the airport once already to add more de-foaming agent to the tank and had activated the circulating pump to correct the problem.

A witness reported observing white smoking coming from the cockpit prior to impact, however the smoke was “granular in nature” and “looked solid.” After the accident, the pilot reported to his wife, that while in flight, excessive foam coated the airplane’s windshield, and he was unable to see outside of the airplane. The airplane impacted a remote flat field while traveling to the southeast and a postimpact fire ensued. The airplane came to rest about 0.65 miles southeast of the departure end of runway 17 at 8V7. The airplane sustained fire damage and was fragmented from impacting terrain as shown in Figure 1. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector documented the accident site. The wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure location.

According to the type certificate holder for the accident airplane, Allied AgCat Productions, the original hopper (which has a maximum capacity of 2,000 lbs) installed in the airplane during initial production has the venting system routed to exit on the underside of the fuselage. A review of FAA historical airworthiness records found no modifications for the hopper listed. The airplane was not manufactured or equipped with a windshield wiper system.

The airplane was equipped with a Pratt & Whitney R-1340-S3H1-G radial engine and a Hamilton Standard 23D40-311 propeller. Reid Aviation & Aerial Spraying, LLC is a 14 CFR Part 137 aerial application operator based in Springfield, Colorado, that solely utilized the accident airplane.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov