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Pilot killed in Sutter County crop duster crash
The National Transportation Safety Board has begun an investigation after a Sacramento pilot died Monday morning when the crop duster he was piloting plunged into a flooded rice field west of Highway 70 near East Nicolaus in south Sutter County.
Nathaniel Allan Brown, 50, was banking south at about 6:30 a.m., preparing to make another spreading run of zinc fertilizer over a field on the south side of Nicolaus Avenue, when his plane dove into the rice field on the north side of Nicolaus, according to the Sutter County Sheriff's Department.
"He made numerous passes, and on this one, he just didn't make it," said Sgt. Merle Weber of the Sheriff's Department, relating what a witness, who was working on a water pump nearby when the crash happened, described to deputies. Brown died almost instantly from the impact, which left a crumpled, yellow Model D Grumman plane visible in the field to those passing on both Nicolaus and Highway 70. The Sheriff's Department, California Highway Patrol and East Nicolaus Fire District responded to the accident scene.
Weber said there was no immediately apparent cause for the crash such as a mechanical failure. The Sheriff's Department said the NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration would be investigating, and the NTSB had removed the plane from the field by midday.
Rebecca Salaices, office manager at Farm Air Flying Service, said Brown had been flying for their crop dusting company for about six years. She said he had been working for the company, based at an airstrip on Riego Road in south Sutter County, for 20 years.
She couldn't comment further on his death, saying Brown's relatives were still on their way to the area.
Brown's FAA listing showed him possessing a pilot's license for commercial flights on single-engine aircraft, issued in 2009.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at email@example.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.