BISMARCK — The National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report on a fatal plane crash that occurred on Aug. 10 southwest of Strasburg, North Dakota, hints that a possible problem with the plane's GPS may have been an issue in the crash.
Michel Gunia, 63, of Linton, was flying a single-engine plane spraying crops when he struck a high-voltage transmission line about 3 miles southwest of Strasburg around 7:40 a.m. on Aug. 10, according to information released by the North Dakota Highway Patrol following the crash.
The transmission line was severed by the impact and the plane crashed in a nearby field, the Highway Patrol said.
According to a preliminary investigative report filed by the NTSB, a colleague of Gunia told investigators that after Gunia completed his second aerial application flight of the day, he planned to make an aerial application to a sunflower field.
The colleague said he and Gunia had sprayed that particular sunflower field many times before, which was always done in a north-south racetrack pattern.
The colleague said he had never seen Gunia spray that particular field in an east-west pattern before because of the presence of large power lines on the west side of the field.
The colleague stated Gunia had recently experienced problems with the plane's GPS.
According to the preliminary report, a witness driving in the area saw the airplane flying west after it exited the sunflower field.
The plane then collided with the power lines and crashed into a road before sliding into a field, the preliminary NTSB report said.
The report also noted an employee of Gunia's who loaded the plane with chemicals the day of the crash told investigators she had never heard Gunia mention any issues with the plane's GPS.