Pilot Said It [Fog] Had Cleared For A Few Moments And That He Had Missed His “Window To Leave”

Location: Shafter, CA Accident Number: WPR22FA026
Date & Time: November 3, 2021, 11:30 Local Registration: N8960Q
Aircraft: Ayres Corporation S-2R 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.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov