SUTTER COUNTY (CBS13) – The FAA is investigating after two small planes collided in midair over Sutter County on Wednesday.
Late Wednesday morning, FAA officials say they got a report from local law enforcement that two single-engine Grumman G-164C Ag Cats had been involved in a midair collision. The collision happened over Striplin Road, about 20 miles north of Sacramento.
Exactly what led up to the planes crashing is unclear, the FAA says.
Only one person, the pilots, were on board each plane at the time of the crash. Authorities say both pilots have died.
The pilots’ families said the two veteran pilots knew each other and died on impact when their planes collided in mid-air.
“I don’t know what we’ll do without him,” a friend of one of the pilots told another family member watching the wreckage of the plane.
Tom Beilby was close with both of these pilots: 63-year-old Brian van Dyke and 59-year-old Burton Haughy.
He was the best man in Van Dyke’s wedding.
“Good guys… Today’s a tough (day).. they died doing what they loved to do,” Beilby said.
The Sutter County Sheriff’s deputies found the planes about 200 yards apart on the rice fields on Striplin Lane in Nicholas.
Both victims worked as crop dusters. Beilby said it was in their blood and they chased the adrenaline — the feeling of flying. Love for what they did — that’s how he said they will be remembered.
“I think everybody’s going to remember them as two fun guys. They like to play, they loved to work. They’re going to be in everybody’s hearts for a long time,” Beilby said.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the incident. The planes will remain where they landed under the watch of a CHP officer overnight so the FAA can finish their investigation.
The Sutter County Sheriff’s deputies said the FAA will look into whether high winds and visibility were a factor in this crash.
Grumman G-164C Ag Cats are commonly used as crop dusters by local farms.