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Sat, Sep 16, 2006

Two Lost In Downing Of Mosquito-Control Plane

FAA Says Plane Impacted Tower

Two pilots flying for the Polk County (FL) Natural Resources Division were killed Thursday night, when their Piper PA-23 impacted a tower east of Fort Meade Peace River Park while on a mosquito-control flight.

The Orlando Sentinel reports the aircraft crashed in a phosphate-mine pit at approximately 8:00 pm Thursday. Department spokeswoman Carrie Rodgers confirmed the plane was spraying pesticide in the area at the time of the accident.

The two victims onboard the Piper Apache twin were  identified as Polk County employees Clayton Merriett and pilot Richard Wheeler.

Mosquito-eradication missions are common in late summer in humid environments. While ground vehicles often spray pesticide in urban environments, aircraft are commonly used in sparsely-populated rural areas. The Natural Resources Division website states the department has one plane for such missions.

Aerial mosquito spraying is conducted during twilight hours, when adult mosquitos are most active. The low-level flights distribute fine aerosol chemicals in a manner similar to cropdusting, although over a wider area.

**   Report created 9/15/2006   Record 1
****************************************

IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 5941Y        Make/Model: PA23      Description: PA-23-150/160 Apache
  Date: 09/14/2006     Time: 2345

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Fatal     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Destroyed

LOCATION
  City: FORT MEADE   State: FL   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  N5941Y, A PIPER PA23, POLK COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISIONERS PUBLIC USE ACFT,
  WHILE ON MOSQUITO PATROL, STRUCK A TOWER AND CRASHED, THE TWO PERSONS ON
  BOARD WERE FATALLY INJURED, FORT MEADE, FL

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   2
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   1     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   
                 # Pass:   1     Fat:   1     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   

WEATHER: NOT REPORTED

OTHER DATA
  Activity: Public Use      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  Departed:                             Dep Date:    Dep. Time:     
  Destination:                          Flt Plan:              Wx Briefing: 
  Last Radio Cont: 
  Last Clearance: 

  FAA FSDO: ORLANDO, FL  (SO15)                   Entry date: 09/15/2006

FMI: www.faa.gov, Polk County Natural Resources Division website

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