14th of February 1981
A Grumman G.164A AG Cat was flying an agricultural mission over fields in the Sout-West of the Netherlands on this day in aviation history in 1981.
The purpose of the flight was to distribute artificial fertiliser, onboard the pilot and 800 kilograms of fertiliser.
The aircraft after the emergency landing (© E. Blokzijl)
At one point during the flight, the throttle control became defective the engine was unresponsive to throttle inputs. The engine rpm steadily reduced to 1000 rpm and remained at that speed independent from any throttle movement. With the engine at 1000 rpm, it was impossible for the pilot to maintain altitude and the aircraft slowly lost height. The pilot selected a field for the inevitable emergency landing, when approaching the field he fully closed the throttle, to no avail, the engine remained at 1000 rpm. This caused the aircraft to overfly the intended field for a large part, this caused the pilot to suspect he would not be able to stop the aircraft on the distance remaining. He feared he would hit a ditch at the end of the field.
The aircraft after the emergency landing (© H. Dekker)
The pilot rolled the aircraft right, however, this caused the speed to decay and the aircraft to slide towards the ground and the right-hand wing tip and right-hand landing gear hit the ground. The aircraft cartwheeled and the left-hand wheel and left-hand wingtip also struck the ground, ripping the left-hand landing gear from the fuselage. Ending upside down. The pilot was not injured and he freed himself from the wreckage. He got a lift from a passing car, who dropped him off at the nearest house, where he called the authorities to inform them about the incident. What the pilot didn't know was that a nearby farmer who saw the accident also called the authorities.
The aircraft in a farmyard after recovery (© H. Dekker)
This resulted in the emergency services arriving at an overturned aircraft without a pilot present. This obviously caused some confusion with the first responding emergency services. A short while later they were informed by dispatch that the pilot was safe and well at a nearby house. (newspaper reports state that the pilot was driven to his own home and that he called the authorities from there.) Although the aircraft was damaged beyond repair, usable parts were stripped from the aircraft. The remaining fuselage frame was donated to the collection of the Technical University in Delft, the Netherlands.
The remnants of the aircraft at the Technical University in Delft, the Netherlands (© H. Dekker)