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The pilot had almost completed spraying herbicide on a field of cotton which was bordered in part by the Dawson River and its associated tree line. The pilot reported that he was making a right turn over the river, which is a conglomerate of channels and gullies, to position the aircraft for a cleanup run. During the turn, he was trying to assess whether a single run would suffice, or if two runs would be required to cover the curved northern boundary of the paddock. The pilot stated that he then suddenly became aware of foliage directly in front of him. The aircraft struck the branches of a large gum tree, lost a 2.5 metre section of right wing, dived into the ground, and came to rest inverted 75 metres from initial impact. There was no fire despite both wing tanks being ruptured. The battery was thrown from the aircraft at initial ground impact. The wing tanks were foam filled, which reduced fuel spillage when the tanks were ruptured, and prevented fuel spraying over the wreckage whilst the aircraft was breaking up. The pilot was wearing protective clothing including a helmet, overalls and boots. The safety harness was in good condition and did not fail. The cockpit remained intact despite complete destruction of the fuselage, and consequently the pilot was protected from sustaining other than minor injuries and was able to extricate himself from the wreckage.

Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 22KB]
General details
Date: 26 January 1990 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 845  
Location:Harcourt (125 km SSW of Rockhampton) Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland  
Release date: 20 April 1990  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Minor 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Piper Aircraft Corp 
Aircraft model: PA-36 
Aircraft registration: VH-SEJ 
Serial number: 36-7560051 
Type of operation: Aerial Work 
Damage to aircraft: Destroyed 
Departure point:North Moura QLD
Departure time:0735
Destination:North Moura QLD
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