A crop-dusting plane crashed late Wednesday morning into a Shafter field and killed the pilot, the only person aboard, according to local and federal authorities.
Kern County Fire Department Battalion Chief Joshua Stinnett said the cause of the crash remains unknown. The identity of the pilot has not been released.
An investigation will be conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, a FAA spokesperson said in an email.
The aircraft took off at 11:50 a.m. from the Minter Field Airport District and headed toward New Cuyama to fill up with organic seed, said Jonathan Hudson, the general manager of the Minter Field Airport District. Total travel time is about one hour, Hudson added.
Conditions around that time were slightly foggy, he said. The crop-duster was owned by Inland Aviation, a local company that houses aircraft at the Shafter Airport, the manager added.
The Shafter Police Department received reports of the crash north of Lerdo Highway between Merced and Fresno avenues, or about a half mile from the airport, at 11:56 a.m. Potato and almond orchards surround the crash site, which itself looked to be a field of dirt. The land is owned by Bidart Bros., a farming company.
“The aircraft caught fire after crashing,” an FAA spokesperson said. The flames were extinguished in roughly 10 minutes, Stinnett said.
The Kern County Sheriff’s Office provided site security. Shafter Police, Hall Ambulance and Kern County Environmental Health also went to the scene.
Stinnett said he does not believe any hazardous material was aboard the crop-duster.
Bidart Bros. declined to comment.