Crop Duster Safety - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Hoxie, AR

Crop Duster Safety

May 25, 2006 -- Posted at 3:56 p.m. CDT

HOXIE, AR -- Already this year there's been one deadly crop duster crash in Arkansas. Two planes collided in the air, killing one of the pilots.

Crop dusters are a familiar site around Region 8. So, what can pilots do to stay safe in the air?

Hoxie Flying Service owner Robert Hicks was a crop duster pilot for 20 years before he had an accident that put him in a wheel chair.

"My accident, I didn't misjudge anything, I made a mental error," said Robert Hicks.

Hicks says his accident has taught him to train other pilots to be safer in the skies. However, most accidents that happen are hard to prevent.

"In the years that we've operated, I don't recall a machinery mistake. It's been human error," said Hicks.

At the Hoxie Flying Service the planes are pre-flown every morning and checked every night.

"If you fly airplanes, there will be some accidents, but we hope that we can minimize them through talking about safety and being aware of the areas that are problems," said Hicks.

"Be careful, look at all your surroundings when you're flying. Make sure no other planes are around you," said Maureice Gardner.

Pilots here in Northeast, Arkansas communicate well with one another. That way they know where planes are at all times so a collision doesn't happen.

"Being rested is really important. This is my first day in Hoxie, and I'm out trying the airplane out, making sure I know the equipment well before I get started," said Gardner.

Gardner says he's been flying for about 18 years, but every piece of land and every plane is different.

"I had about 11,000 hours when I had the accident, so, it wasn't from lack of experience; it was just a mental mistake," said Hicks.

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