Experts Warn Of Crop Dusting Dangers Following Fatal Crashes
OKLAHOMA CITY - Tuesday’s crash near Enid is the second fatal accident involving a crop duster in Oklahoma in less than three weeks. Crop dusting consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous professions.
News 9 viewer Megan Brown Moulder shot video Monday of a crop duster flying low to the ground near Enid. It's believed to be the same plane that crashed Tuesday.
“If you look at the right-hand side of the wing, you can see the part of the tower embedded in the wing,” Bob Mills Sky News 9 pilot Jim Gardner described as he flew overhead.
“It’s just an inherently dangerous job,” said Blue Meyers, a Corporate Flight Department Captain. He flies jets usually way above the towers and trees. Crop dusters don't have that luxury.
“They fly in close proximity to the ground:12 to 15 feet to minimize the amount of chemical drift,” said Meyers.
In addition, he said there is an increasing number of wind and now meteorological towers that sometimes don't show up on charts. Due to the nature of the work, fatigue can become a factor.
“These guys work long, long hours. During the growing season sun up to sun down,” said Meyers.
The sheer number of accidents and fatalities among crop dusters prompted the NTSB to conduct this special investigation. The report also cites as high demands on pilots' attention and aircraft maintenance issues for the high number of crashes.
“If you have a mechanical problem, you’re low level, so you don’t have may options if any,” explained Gardner.
The low-level issues very similar to ones Bob Mills' Sky News 9 pilot Jim Gardner experiences.
“It’s about concentration, you have to concentrating all the time and never let your guard down,” said Gardner.
It will likely be several months before it's determined what exactly led to Tuesday’s crash.