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Report: Reduced visibility caused midair collision

6/29/2005 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- Air Force officials have completed their investigation of the midair collision between a T-37 Tweet and a civilian crop-duster Jan. 18 near Hollister, Okla., which resulted in a civilian pilot’s death.

Accident investigators determined there were two causes to the accident. First, the Tweet aircrew, Capt. Christopher Otis and 2nd Lt. Roderick James, and the crop-duster pilot, Carl Dierk Nash, failed to see and avoid each other in sufficient time to prevent the collision.

Second, the civilian pilot was at an altitude designated for aircraft flying under instrument flying rules while he was supposed to be flying under visual flying rules.

Investigators theorized, based on Mr. Nash’s extensive experience with visual flying rules, that he may have been passing through 5,000 feet while transitioning to a proper altitude, but “there was no way to confirm this.”

At the time of the collision, the T-37 crew had completed their training mission and was returning to base. They ejected safely from their aircraft, with the student pilot sustaining minor injuries. Mr. Nash was delivering the crop-duster from the aircraft’s manufacturer in Olney, Texas, to Huron, S.D.

The report cited reduced visibility from a haze layer at 4,500 to 6,000 feet and both aircraft’s cockpit design as contributing factors that hindered the crews in seeing and avoiding each other.

After the midair collision, the aircraft crashed within one-half mile of each other, and both were destroyed.

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