Friday, July 12, 2024

Preliminary NTSB report reveals what led to deadly midair crop-duster collision in West Texas


A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board released Wednesday revealed what happened in the moments leading up to the deadly midair collision of two crop-duster airplanes last month near Whiteface.

The report comes about three weeks after the June 14 crash in Cochran County that left Philip Joseph Kitten dead and Jeremy Deshawn Williams seriously injured.

When the crash occurred, Kitten and Williams were each piloting an Air Tractor model AT-502B plane for King Ag Aviation, Inc. out of Sudan, according to the NTSB report and other public records. The pilots were spraying a cotton field about 5 miles northwest of Whiteface in rural Cochran County when the two planes collided midair over the field at about 8:40 a.m.

More: Officials ID pilots in deadly West Texas crop duster plane crash

Kitten was pronounced dead on the scene, and Williams was taken to Covenant Hospital in Levelland, the Avalanche-Journal previously reported.

The NTSB report did not directly identify the pilots, but the two men were previously identified by Texas Department of Public Safety officials.

According to the report, Williams planned to spray the corners of the field while Kitten sprayed the center circle. The pilots planned for Kitten to be the “low man” and Williams to be the “high man,” according to the report. The document did not elaborate further on the pilots’ plans.

The wreckage of N8525V, piloted by Philip Joseph Kitten, is pictured in a preliminary NTSB report following a June 14, 2024 crash in Cochran County.

The wreckage of N8525V, piloted by Philip Joseph Kitten, is pictured in a preliminary NTSB report following a June 14, 2024 crash in Cochran County.

Williams said he was making a spray pass from north to south when Kitten began to climb into Williams’ flight path, the report states. Williams told investigators he “yanked and banked to the right” in an effort to avoid the crash.

Investigators found Kitten’s plane upside-down with a portion of the fuselage separated several feet away from the rest of the aircraft. The plane caught fire on the ground and was substantially damaged, the report notes.

Williams’ aircraft was also substantially damaged but did not catch fire, investigators determined. It was found on its side about 400 feet to the east of Kitten’s plane.

The NTSB report says investigators found wreckage from the two planes scattered over a 700-foot-by-400-foot area over the field they were spraying and an adjacent field to the south.

A diagram from a preliminary NTSB report shows the location of the wreckage of two crop-duster planes that collided June 14, 2024 in Cochran County.

A diagram from a preliminary NTSB report shows the location of the wreckage of two crop-duster planes that collided June 14, 2024 in Cochran County.

Investigators took the wreckage “to a secure location for further examination” and were able to recover GPS guidance systems from each of the aircraft. Those computers were sent to an NTSB lab for data analysis.

The Federal Aviation Administration, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and officials from the Air Tractor headquarters in Olney are assisting with the investigation, which is ongoing. A final report is expected at a later date.

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: NTSB report reveals what led to Cochran County crop-duster collision



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