ENID, Okla. — A Deterding Aerial pilot killed when his plane collided with a communications tower northwest of Enid June 19, 2018, was in good spirits and accustomed to the area where he was spraying fields, a preliminary report filed by the National Transportation Safety Board states.
“According to the operator, the airplane was dispatched to apply fertilizer to a nearby field and that the pilot was familiar with the field (he had applied fertilizer to the field the previous day). Preflight operations at 2K1 were normal and company personnel stated that the pilot was in good spirits prior to the flight,” the NTSB report states.
The pilot, and sole occupant of the plane, Rodney Sherry, 52, of Olton, Texas, died at the scene, according to an Oklahoma Highway Patrol press release.
Witnesses who saw the plane, an Air Tractor 502B agricultural airplane, said everything appeared to be operating normally, but after “8-10 swath runs over the field, the airplane climbed, turned and then impacted the tower.” Skies were clear at the time of the accident, which happened at about 7:15 a.m. Visibility was listed on the report at 10 miles and the wind was light at 9 mph, according to the NTSB report.
The aircraft was found in an open field north of Oklahoma 45 and Garland, about 470 feet north of the 419-foot communications tower. OHP originally reported the plane struck a guy-wire on the tower, but the NTSB report states that “top 50-feet of the damaged tower structure was intertwined within the main wreckage.” The tower later was taken down due to safety concerns, according to the NTSB.
The engine appears to have separated from the plane before impact, which evidence shows was a nose-down, vertical impact, and was found approximately 352 feet northeast of the main wreckage, the NTSB reports. The cockpit seat was intact, air bags were deployed and pilot restraints were in use, according to the report.
“The engine controls (power, propeller and condition levers), were found in the full forward positions. The propeller assembly showed evidence consistent with power at the time of impact,” the NTSB report states.
The communications tower was constructed in 1989 and was supported by unmarked steel cables, according to the report. The tower location was published on current sectional charts and painted and lighted in accordance with the FAA. The crop-dusting flight was being conducted under the provisions of federal code and originated from a private airfield in Pond Creek at 6:45 a.m. A flight plan was not filed, according to the NTSB report.
It was the second fatal crop-dusting plane accident in a month in Oklahoma.
Pond Creek resident Andrew Deterding, 57, owner of Andy Deterding Ag Aviation, died May 30 in a crash near El Reno.
He was flying an S2R-T34 Thrush plane about 2 miles north of El Reno in Canadian County, when the aircraft struck a radio tower guideline, according to an OHP report.
The plane then hit the ground and caught fire, the report states. Deterding was pronounced dead at the scene with head, arm, leg and trunk internal injuries. He was transported by the state Medical Examiner's Office, according to the report.
According to other media reports, Deterding was spraying herbicides on fields at the time of the crash.