6 fatal crop duster crashes happened in Arkansas since 2013

6 fatal crop duster crashes happened in Arkansas since 2013

ST. FRANCIS CO., AR (WMC) - Funeral arrangements are still pending for the Arkansas fire chief who died Wednesday in a crop duster plane crash.

Crop dusting has earned a reputation as one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S.

Pilots must fly so low to the ground and navigate trees, power lines, and other hazards, resulting sometimes in death if pilots aren't careful.

Chad McLain was Wheatley's chief of the volunteer fire department and an agriculture pilot. An early morning plane crash in a St. Francis County field Wednesday ended his life.

"This is our second to lose in this area," said friend Mack Hardwick. "And they both went to the same church. Dirk Nash, we lost him and now Chad McLain."

Debris from McLain's crash was scattered through a wooded area on the edge of the field.

The cause of the crash still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

NTSB data from the past five years will soon include McLain's death to be the sixth agricultural aviation accident since the start of 2013.

During that same time period, 24 Arkansas agriculture pilots were injured, compared to just a handful of injuries in Tennessee and Mississippi.

NTSB lists the causes of many of the agriculture airplane crashes as the result of collisions with trees and power lines.

The low-flying planes swooping over farm landscape, leaving behind a chemical cloud to kill pests or to fertilize crops.

"They head into trees, they pull up they make a circle then they come back down," Hardwick said. "They are like daredevils, every day of their life."

McLain's death is a loss the entire community is feeling.

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