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Summary

The pilot of the Hiller 12E helicopter had been tasked with spraying insecticide on a paddock of soybean plants. The pilot familiarised himself with the property layout and obstacles before starting treatment of the area. The paddock to be sprayed was crossed at its mid point by powerlines running east-west. The southern boundary of the paddock was marked by a wire fence, a road and another set of powerlines. The pilot reported commencing a spray run along the northern boundary but found that his GPS navigation system was not working. He landed on the western side of the paddock to re-enter data into the GPS system. On carrying out another run, the pilot found the system was still not operating, so he moved the helicopter away from the paddock to the south. He then elected to return to the paddock by flying over the powerlines. The pilot reported that at this time, he was mentally occupied with the problem with the GPS and forgot about the powerlines at the southern edge of the paddock. The helicopter spray gear contacted the powerlines, causing the helicopter to pitch nose down and contact the ground. The helicopter came to rest inverted and the pilot climbed out of the wreckage, receiving only minor injuries. The helicopter did not catch fire. A significant factor in this accident was the preoccupation of the pilot with the GPS navigation equipment at a time when he was flying close to obstacles.
 
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