Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Air Tractor AT-502B, N6088K: Fatal accident occurred June 15, 2021 in Paragould, Greene County, Arkansas

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Little Rock, Arkansas 
Air Tractor, Olney, Texas

Location: Paragould, AR
Accident Number: CEN21FA270
Date & Time: June 15, 2021, 16:32 Local 
Registration: N6088K
Aircraft: Air Tractor 502B
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural

On June 15, 2021, at 1632 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT 502B airplane, N6088K, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Paragould, Arkansas. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 agricultural flight.

A witness reported that he observed the airplane about one mile away flying directly toward him. It was straight and level, about treetop height. Without warning, he observed a small puff of white smoke; the airplane immediately nosed down and impacted the ground. A post-crash fire ensued. The operator reported that, on the day of the accident, a second airplane had been flying in the vicinity
of the accident airplane. Both airplanes were going to and from the same loader throughout the day. Both airplanes had dispersed about 28 loads of fertilizer; during which, the accident pilot did not report any anomalies with the airplane. Shortly before the accident, the accident airplane was loaded with full 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 the airplane burning on the ground about 0.5 miles east of the field it was spraying.

The airplane was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Air Tractor 
Registration: N6088K
Model/Series: 502B 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural aircraft (137)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KJBR,262 ft msl 
Observation Time: 16:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 17 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 33°C /12°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots / , 10°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.01 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Paragould, AR
Destination: Paragould, AR

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 36.103922,-90.7146 (est)

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


  1. RIP to an Ag pilot helping to keep us fed. They are heroes risking their lives helping to keep food on our tables.

    1. Very true. So sad to see fatal accidents involving people flying for their job. They are often family or single operators, and sometimes leave a young family behind. The Air Tractor and Thrush are awesome, capable, reliable machines. Over time, ag AC have become bigger and faster .. this is understandable: get more done in the day, shorter ferry time, better value for farmer. But it means things move very quickly indeed .. so I imagine that without a very conscious recon of the field, there may be less time to initially spot the (or remember the proximity of the already-spotted) wire/ tree/ cell tower. I'm not assuming that is what happened here, but it often is. I can imagine that the conscious recon is harder to do after flying for 5 or 6 hours. How these pilots manage alertness and their in-field situational awareness, hour after hour, is remarkable. They are amazing. RIP.

    2. A friend's family owns a massive mixed vegetable 1,000+ acre farm in the Midwest where they grow and harvest sell everything from corn to soybeans. He tells me that the crop duster pilots they contract to are stretched thin. I believe they are taking on too many jobs and enjoying the money while not resting enough. It's been that way since the pandemic and lockdowns started last year. The only FAR limit is 9-14 hours a day depending on how many rests between each flight. There is no reference to days required off in sequence. You can fly 7 days a week 9-14 hours a day with no days off for an entire month.