Preliminary report released on fatal plane crash near Pleasant Grove |

Preliminary report released on fatal plane crash near Pleasant Grove

Rachel Rosenbaum
Special to The Union

There were scattered clouds but visibility for flying was fair that day back in May when two planes collided, killing both pilots near Pleasant Grove, according to a preliminary investigation report released by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The report doesn’t offer an explanation as to what led to the May 15 fatal collision.

Two crop dusting planes collided midair over the 3700 block of Striplin Road, killing pilots Burton A. Haughey, 58, of Wheatland, and Brian J. VanDyke, 62, of Rio Oso. They were flying Grumman G-164C Ag Cats — popular crop duster planes — the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. Both pilots were seeding rice fields when they collided just before noon, police said.

The preliminary report states that both planes were registered to the pilots and operating under federal regulations. “Visual meteorological conditions prevailed” for the local flights — with flight plans filed beforehand — with visibility at around 10 miles.

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Haughey departed from Moe’s Crop Dusting Service, which he was owner of, in Pleasant Grove and was transitioning from south to southeast bound to seed a local field. Van Dyke had just completed seeding a local field and was transitioning back to Van Dyke strip airport when the collision occurred, according to the report.

A witness about a half-mile west of the collision did not see the crash, but saw Haughey’s plane traveling south. She heard a bang and saw both left wings leave the plane, according to the report. The nose dropped and the airplane hit the ground. At that time, she was unaware that another airplane was in the area.

The airplanes came to rest about a quarter-mile apart. Haughey’s plane came to rest in a dry field adjacent to an access road, and Van Dyke’s plane came to rest nose-down in a rice field, according to the report. Both planes were recovered for further examination.

Then National Transportation Safety Board said the full report — with analysis and determination of cause — can take anywhere from one to two years to release.

Rachel Rosenbaum writes for the Marysville Appeal Democrat. She can be reached at

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