Thursday, November 04, 2021

Ayres S-2R Thrush, N8960Q: Fatal accident occurred November 03, 2021 near Shafter-Minter Field Airport (KMIT), Kern County, California

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. 

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fresno, California
Honeywell; Phoenix, California

Inland Crop Dusters Inc

Location: Shafter, California
Accident Number: WPR22FA026
Date and Time: November 3, 2021, 11:30 Local
Registration: N8960Q
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural

On November 3, 2021, about 1130 Pacific daylight time, an Ayers Corporation S-2R Thrush airplane, N8960Q, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Shafter, California. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated by Inland Aviation, Inc., as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 repositioning flight.

A witness who spoke with the pilot prior to the flight, stated that the pilot said it [fog] had cleared for a few moments and that he had missed his “window to leave.” About 20-30 minutes later someone had told the witness the pilot had departed. Another witness who spoke with the pilot prior to the flight, stated that the pilot had been in and out of the office to use the phone and to check weather. His last comment to the witness was, “…you just have to get high enough over the top of the weather to get in the clear.” 

Another witness who was notified of the accident at 1220, was at his house about 6 miles west of the airport. He stepped outside and stated that the visibility was 1/2 to 1 mile of patchy fog, and low ceilings of about 400 ft above ground level (agl).

According to the operator, the purpose of the flight to New Cuyama (L88), California, was to load the accident airplane with dry seed to disperse at a farm near L88. The pilot attempted to depart Shafter Airport-Minter Field (KMIT) Shafter, California, earlier in the morning but had canceled the flight due to the overcast conditions at KMIT. The pilot departed on the accident flight about 1120.

MIT was situated at an elevation of 424 ft above mean sea level. It was equipped with three paved runways. The runway used, designated 8/26, which measured 3,680 ft by 60 ft. KMIT was not equipped with an air traffic control tower.

The 1119 Meadows Field Airport (KBFL), Bakersfield, California, automated weather observation, located about 8 miles to the southeast of the accident site, reported winds from 230° at 4 knots, visibility 1-3/4 miles, mist, and overcast clouds at 400 ft agl.

An examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted level fallow terrain about 1-1/4 miles northwest of KMIT. The debris field was about 800 ft long, on a westerly heading. The airplane impacted terrain, then an irrigation standpipe located near the middle of the debris field. A postimpact fire ensued.

The wreckage was relocated to a secured facility for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N8960Q
Model/Series: S-2R
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural aircraft (137)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KBFL,489 ft msl
Observation Time: 11:19 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 14°C /13°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 230°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 400 ft AGL
Visibility: 0.75 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.19 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: Shafter, CA 
Destination: New Cuyama, CA (L88)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 35.519039,-119.21833 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290. 

Max Allen Hanner 

Max Allen Hanner went to be with his Lord doing what he loved, he was a crop duster pilot for 40 years. Max was born in Anthony, Kansas to James and Billie Hanner. During his younger years he attended Shafter schools and graduated in 1977. He loved all sports especially football and baseball. He was an avid Dodger fan and Charger fan.

Max had a quiet personality, but he had the gift of gab. Max has lifelong relationships with friends, family, and the community of Shafter to this day. He was a man of many friends. After high school, Max attended Cal Poly SLO. While taking agriculture classes he decided to learn to fly. He returned to Shafter to work for Inland Crop Duster for the next 35 years.

During his 35 years of flying, he become the man in the yellow plane. He touched a lot of people, he helped put food on our tables and flying was Max's passion. He was a skilled, accurate, loyal, and exceptional pilot and human being. When he was flying, he was at peace.

He had gotten so good at what he did, Max had a few small roles in entertainment industry. He was our favorite local celebrity and pilot. Max had a very generous heart. He never missed a family function, holiday, or birthday party. He always came bearing gifts with his big smile. He was the kindest and most caring person.

Max is survived by his parents, James and Billie Hanner; wife, Karen Hanner; daughter, Natasha Berry (Dustin); son, Nathan Hanner; siblings, Loree Trout (Randy) and Jay Hanner, as well as many cousins, aunts, and uncles. Max had nine grandchildren: Alyssa, Baylee, Brody, Dakota, Hunter, Axl, Maddyson, Kaden and Alexie.

Max is now in heaven with his son, Nealson Hanner. He will be missed by our family, friends, colleagues, and community.

Join us for a celebration of Max's life on November 20, 2021, at 11 a.m. at Inland Crop Dusters, 5001 Stearman Ave Shafter, CA 93263. In lieu of gifts or flowers, donate in his name to your favorite charity.

SHAFTER, California — Max Allen Hanner was in and out of the office the morning of November 3, continually checking weather conditions and waiting for fog to clear so he could fly a single-engine plane from Shafter to New Cuyama.

Hanner, 62, told someone the fog had briefly cleared and he had missed his “window to leave,” according to a report filed by the National Transportation Safety Board.

About 20 minutes later, Hanner took off from Minter Field. His last words to another person before leaving were “…you just have to get high enough over the top of the weather to get in the clear,” the report says.

The plane, an Ayres Corporation S-2R, crashed at 11:30 a.m. about 1 1/4 miles northwest of the airport. Hanner, the only occupant, was killed.

“The debris field was about 800-feet long, on a westerly heading,” according to the preliminary NTSB report. “The airplane impacted terrain, then an irrigation standpipe located near the middle of the debris field. A post-impact fire ensued.”

The report says the wreckage was taken to a secured facility for further examination. NTSB will eventually release a final report with a more detailed description of the crash and its probable cause.

Hanner was flying to pick up dry seed that would be dispersed over farmland.

The plane was operated by Inland Aviation, Inc., which offers crop, fuel and even film services, its crop dusters featured in films and TV shows.

BAKERSFIELD, California  — UPDATE: Family members tells Eyewitness News that the pilot killed was 62-year-old Max Allen Hanner.

According to Jonathan Hudson, the General Manager of Minter Field Airport, said Hanner was a pilot for Inland Aviation Inc and flew out of Shafter for 35 years.


A plane crash has been reported on North Driver Road and East Lerdo Highway near Minter Field Airport in Shafter.

According to the Kern County Fire Department, at 11:56 a.m. reports of an aircraft down in Shafter.

KCFD and other agencies responded and found a small aircraft with one occupant inside. The occupant was declared dead at the scene.

Federal Aviation and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified for investigation purposes.

Shafter Police, Kern County Sheriff's Department, Environmental Health, and Hall Ambulance all responded to the scene.


  1. These Ag fatal crashes really bother me the most along with medivac/meditransport, firefighter, and law enforcement crash fatalities. These are people doing their job to help keep others alive and safe. In the case of Ag, keeping people alive by ensuring food gets to their table and not eaten by pests.

    RIP to the pilot who was well seasoned in the business and thank you sir for your service to the community. Condolences to the family and friends who knew and loved him. So sad.

  2. Thank you max for the flying lessons, some years ago. I
    Remember so well how much fun we had.! R.I.P bro.

  3. Thanks max for the flying lessons, those some years ago. How much fun we had! Great instructor you were, and a great pilot, and person!