Monday, March 29, 2021

Aviat A-1 Husky, N800MH: Fatal accident occurred March 29, 2021 in Rome, Floyd County, Georgia

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia 

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances in a field.


Date: 29-MAR-21
Time: 21:53:00Z
Regis#: N800MH
Aircraft Make: AVIAT
Aircraft Model: A1
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 1
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
Operation: 91
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: DESTROYED
City: ROME
State: GEORGIA

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.

Mr. Bobby Allred







A single-engine plane crashed in a cleared ravine near Cave Spring Monday evening, killing the pilot and knocking out power in the city.

Floyd County Coroner Gene Proctor identified the pilot as 79-year-old Bobby Allred of Centre, Alabama.

Floyd County police set up a perimeter around the site to await the arrival of an investigator from the Federal Aviation Administration, expected around 11 p.m.

According to a release from FCPD Sgt. Chris Fincher:

Rescuers were dispatched to the 1400 block of Davis Road around 5:45 p.m. on Monday. A witness observed the plane and reported the crash. The area is less than a mile outside of the Cave Spring city limits.

Residents who live in the area of Cave Spring have reported seeing the plane over the weekend and also earlier on Monday. Witnesses who saw the plane before the crash reported no obvious difficulty.

Davis Road will be closed in the area until the investigation is complete.

Downed power lines sparked a fire about 100 yards from the plane. Tim Herrington, director of the Floyd County Emergency Management Agency, said it appears the plane clipped a main feed line.

Georgia Power crews were on the scene before 8 p.m. The utility's outage map indicated 1,748 customers were affected and they expected power to be restored to most of them by 1 a.m.

Meanwhile, police said all utility lines in the area should be considered to be live and should be avoided.

Fincher said Allred was alone in the plane and no one on the ground was injured in the crash. A medic sustained an injury in the ravine, but details were unavailable Monday night.


Mr. Bobby Allred


September 25, 2001 

CENTRE, Alabama — A field of white cotton yielded to a strong north wind Tuesday as Bobby Allred checked the flaps and gauges of his Cessna AG Truck crop-duster.

After taking off from a grassy half-mile runway in his backyard, Allred was in the air and swooping down into the knee-high crop of cotton — pulling back in time to climb the steep wall of a barn at the end of the farm.

Allred, whose daredevil flying is routine in the dusting profession, has been spraying crops in Floyd County and Alabama for 33 years. For the first time in that career the federal government recently grounded his two planes in light of potential terrorist threats.

Following the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all commercial, private and agricultural flights. That ban was lifted three days later but another was put in place for crop-dusters after evidence surfaced that potential terrorists had been asking about the capabilities of duster planes.

The restriction was lifted shortly after midnight Tuesday, just in time for Allred’s spraying season to begin in a few days.

Allred, who also operates a wholesale soap and pressure-washing distribution service from his home, said the recent bans on flying have had more negative impact on his joy flying than his billfold.

Crop-dusters have already seen their business dwindle because of encroaching land developers and hybrid crops, but the terrorist-related bans cut even further into their business.

Allred said crop-dusters in the Tennessee and Huntsville Valleys probably were worst affected by the bans since their dusting season is in mid-swing. The growing season here is a little later, he said, so he won’t begin spraying defoliant, a chemical used to mature crops, for another week.

Many like Allred said they understood the government’s restrictions, but he said the bans probably were excessive.

“I don’t really see much of a threat,” he said of crop-duster planes being stolen or hijacked to drop chemicals on metropolitan areas.

Dusters are still banned in metro areas, “but those are places we never fly anyway,” Allred said. “If anyone saw us there anyway it would raise suspicion.”

Many Americans have to endure a hectic commute to work through traffic, but Allred has only to walk about 50 yards from his house to his plane, tied down outside his work shed.

Some of his fellow pilots have started taking extra security precautions like wrapping cable locks around their propellers and adding security systems to their hangars. Allred said he is satisfied with a shotgun he keeps handy.

Allred said the future of his profession is still uncertain, but he anticipates the government requiring a flight plan or briefing before each day of work — which normally begins around 8 a.m. and lasts until dusk.

America’s air space has for a long time been practically free of regulation, but that may end soon, he said. That restriction could put a crimp on Allred’s leisure flights.

“Most folks get in their cars after work and take a drive through the country,” he said. “But I’d rather get in my plane and take off around the lake over there.”

The aerial application of chemicals dates to 1921, when lead arsenate dust was spread over catalpa trees to kill moth larvae in Ohio. A year later, biplanes in the South killed boll weevils in cotton fields.

In those days, the planes were known as crop-dusters because they sprayed dry chemicals. Today dusters are spraying few pesticides but more fertilizers and growth regulators.

Some planes have complicated computer systems that monitor guidance and chemical applications. A pilot must receive extensive training and typically works for several years on a ground crew before being able to fly one of the aircraft.

Allred’s operation is all manual but he said the chances of someone hijacking a crop-duster are remote because the planes are extremely difficult to fly.

Because the middle wheel of the planes is on the rear instead of the front, as is the case with most modern aircraft, the planes have a tendency to fishtail on takeoff.

Not only does he have to worry about releasing the proper amount of chemical on an area, Allred said, he also has to be aware of other minor concerns — like dodging buildings and power lines.

His one-seater plane carries 280 gallons of chemicals and a few gallons less fuel.

“Flying has to be second nature,” Allred said. “I’ve got too many other things to watch than to worry about flight decisions.”

According to the National Agricultural Aviation Association, the average agricultural pilot protects between $12 million and $15 million in farm products each year.

With him, Allred said, it’s less about money than the joy of flying.


Mr. Bobby Allred

December 29, 2003

In just a few short years, Centre, along with Cherokee County and Piedmont will be in the airport business big time. And local pilots couldn’t be happier!

Local pilots laud the new facility on the heels of recent groundbreaking ceremonies for the Centre-Cherokee County-Piedmont Regional Airport on Highway 9 in Centre.

Bobby Allred of Centre, who owns two crop dusting planes, has his own runway.

“I think the airport is going to be good for the area,” said Allred. “I’m glad to see it after we have been working toward it for so many years.”

Allred has been flying for almost 40 years.

“I may not use it, but it is great for this area to finally get a modern airport,” said Allred.

Local pilot and Airport Authority Member Harley McGatha is also excited about the news.

“Oh yes, absolutely,” said Harley McGatha. “I have to travel in my business to even get out and talk to folks about jobs. A lot of people told me they didn’t think I would be in favor of it since I have a hangar at the Centre Airport. But I’m excited about it.”

McGatha earned his pilots license in 1987. Currently he owns three planes, including a Piper Colt, a Champion 7HC which seats three passengers and a Comanche which seats six passengers.

“I had a knee injury and was on crutches,” said McGatha. “I noticed a plane for sale, bought it and started taking lessons.”

And, in many cases, it is the only way to travel, McGatha said.

“Flying is eight to 10 times safer than driving a car,” said McGatha. “If I need to go to Tallahassee, for example, I can get there in an hour and a half. The other day we had to travel to Clay County, Ala. It usually takes us about 30 minutes to get there and we made it in 16 minutes.”

It would be nice for local pilots to be able to refuel locally, McGatha said. Currently, he often has to make stops at LaGrange, Ga. and other locations for this purpose.

The Airport Authority purchased more than 300 acres from Ellis Properties for the new airport. McGatha commended Ellis Properties for working with them on this project. Otherwise, they may have had to deal with multiple landowners about purchasing property for the new facility.

The airport, McGatha noted, will help land more industry for the area.

“It will encourage people to come and visit our city,” said McGatha. “It will also help other areas, like Jacksonville, Ala. I see us getting more manufacturing jobs and probably four to five service jobs for every manufacturing jobs. I think it will help the economy of our county.”

“I think it will probably be a great thing,” said Grant Ratliff, another local pilot. “An airport, if operated in the right way, can be a money-making thing. It’s a strategic location. We’ve needed to be in the airport business for the past 30 years. We need to offer services, fuel and also an FBO (fixed based operator).”

Local airport personnel, Ratliff suggested, could explore the possibilities of renting hangar space to other airports and also local pilots. Currently, many local pilots house their planes on their private property rather than housing them at the airport.

Ratliff earned his pilot license in 1979. Al Branum was his flight instructor.

“We have probably lost a lot of industry because we didn’t have the airport facility we needed here,” said Ratliff. “I think this new airport will definitely be a positive thing.”

Charles Laney of Centre has been flying since 1968.

“I actually starting taking lessons when I was a kid,” said Laney. “I would take a few lessons, then I would run out of money. I had to wait until I was older to actually do something with what I learned.”

As a 30-year user of the Centre Airport, he is proud to see the upgrade.

“I think it will probably be good for private planes as well as for corporate planes for local businesses and future businesses,” said Laney.

The current runway surface, Laney said, isn’t adequate for the larger planes.

“Many of the larger, heavier planes could land, but they wouldn’t be able to take off,” said Laney.

Laney said he doesn’t fly as much as he used to. He spends most of his time these days restoring and sometimes replacing wrecked planes and selling them. Currently he owns two four-seater Cessnas.

He looks forward to trying out the new 5,500-foot runway to be offered by the new regional airport.

“I think it will be a valuable asset to the county and also a valuable asset to industry that wishes to locate here,” said Laney.

Dr. Brian Perry, local physician and member of the Airport Authority, is also a licensed pilot. He currently owns a Piper Lance, six-seater, single-engine plane with retractable gear, which he flies locally and occasionally uses for a holiday trip to the beach with his family. He houses the plane at the current Centre Airport facility.

“I certainly think this airport will be a good thing for the area,” said Dr. Perry. “The airport we have now is now adequate. At the current location, there is no way to expand. The larger runway (with the new regional airport) will allow us to handle larger aircraft and get better service for our area. Maybe we could hire a fixed based operator, some crews to service the airplanes, in addition to recruiting industry for this area.”

Currently, local pilots are forced to get fuel and maintenance work done elsewhere since these services are not available at the Centre Airport at this time, Dr. Perry said.

Dr. Perry actually started flying while he was a senior in high school, earned his pilot’s licenses and started flying more regularly in the early 1990s.

2 comments:

  1. RIP...
    "it appears the plane clipped a main feed line"

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sad being an Agri-pilot for all those years should have been something that would be top of mind. To constantly check for those obstacles in flying. I'm an aviation enthusiast but never have gotten my pilots license. But flying an airplane is not like driving a car. It requires a constant awareness of your surroundings. I would think if someone is not familiar with an area you are flying to is consult maps or google earth or maps. They could be a pain savior.

    ReplyDelete