Pilot killed less than one week from training completion

Published 4:44 pm Friday, July 10, 2009

Aaron Robert Green, the student pilot who was killed when the plane he was flying crashed into a peanut field on Tuesday, had less than a week remaining in his flight training.

Thirty-one-year-old Green was from Troutdale, Ore., and was enrolled in agriculture flight training school at AG-Flight, which operates out of the Decatur County Industrial Air Park.

The 1978 Air Tractor AT-301 single-engine plane Green was flying went down shortly before 1 p.m. on Tuesday near Brinson in a peanut field located south of the intersection of Georgia 310 and U.S. 84 West.

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Billy Howell, owner of the plane and AT-Flight, said the plane was current on all maintenance and expressed the young pilot’s closeness to completing his training.

“He was one of the best pilots I ever trained,” said Howell. “This is a tragic thing that happened.”

He said Green enrolled in his school with no prior flight training and was a great student, paying close attention to everything he was taught.

Green was in his final hours of training with only 10 total hours of flight training remaining before completion. Howell said he would have been done by this weekend.

The person who reported the crash said he was on his porch when the plane flew over approximately 700 feet overhead heading south. The plane then made several turning maneuvers before he saw something white coming out of the plane and it go down behind some trees, according to incident reports.

Howell said Green was practicing emergency dumps—a maneuver where crop duster pilots release their entire load in the case of engine troubles in order to lighten the airplane for landing or a return flight.

Howell said he had witnessed Green conduct the maneuver twice without any problems prior to the crash. Green was carrying approximately 250 gallons of water, which equates to more than 2,000 pounds.

Howell said he has trained more than 1,500 pilots over the past 25 years and has had five pilots lose their lives—less than half of 1 percent of all those he has trained.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sent investigators to investigate the crash as is standard procedure when a plane crash occurs. The preliminary accident and incident data released on Friday by the FAA provided a description of the crash stating, “the aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances.”