The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its preliminary report on the June 15 plane crash that killed a Paragould man.

According to the report, the crash of the single-seat Air Tractor AT 502B crop-duster, registration number N6088K, took place at 4:32 p.m. on the 15th. The crash was in a field just north of Greene 203 Road near its junction with Greene 226 Road. The pilot, Dustin Hunter Drope, 28, of Paragould, died in the crash.

According to the report, a witness told investigators that he observed the airplane about one mile away flying directly toward him. It was flying straight and level, about treetop height. The witness said that he observed a small puff of white smoke and without warning; the aircraft immediately nosed down and impacted the ground. A post-crash fire ensued; there was no explosion, however.

The operator (Wallin Agri Aviation of Walnut Ridge) reported that on the day of the accident, a second aircraft (from Bono-based Scott Flying Service) had been flying in the vicinity of the accident aircraft. Both planes were going to and from the same loader throughout the day.

Both planes had dispersed about 28 loads of fertilizer; during which, the accident pilot (Drope) did not report any anomalies with his airplane. Shortly before the accident, the airplane was loaded with fuel and fertilizer. It was actively spraying a field when the second pilot departed the area to refill fertilizer. When the second pilot returned, he observed Drope’s airplane burning on the ground about a half-mile east of the field it was spraying.

The preliminary report said the airplane was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

According to the report, visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed at the time of the crash. According to planeandpilotmag.com, VMC permit a pilot to maintain visual reference with a horizon and provide enough visual references by which he or she can navigate. Visibility was 10 miles and the sky was clear. Temperature was 94 degree, and the wind was blowing at 7 knots (8 mph). The preliminary report did not, however, indicate a wind direction, or a direction of travel for the accident aircraft at the time of the crash.

As stated in the report, it contains preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in the report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB media relations representative Keith Holloway said it can take 12-24 months before a probable cause and final report is issued and posted to the NTSB website.

Those investigating the crash included investigator-in-charge Samantha Link of the NTSB, Johnny Victory of the Little Rock office of the Federal Aviation Administration and Dakota Lowe of Olney, Texas-based Air Tractor.

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