The pilot of a small aircraft was taken to the hospital after crashing at the Tahlequah Municipal Airport Friday morning.
The Tahlequah Fire Department was paged out to the call before at 7:25 a.m. The yellow, single-engine craft with blue striping is a crop duster that TFD Fire Chief Casey Baker described as an Air Tractor Inc AT-301.
Officials said the pilot was coming in from Skiatook and was landing in Tahlequah to refuel. It appeared the pilot came in too fast, braked, and flipped.
According to Plane Crash Map, the same aircraft was involved in a crash in North Dakota, in 2010.
“The pilot was landing on a private grass strip that had not been used for several weeks, during which time the grass had grown ‘considerably,’” the report from 2010 stated. “Upon landing, the tall grass caught the left spray boom, which resulted in the airplane traveling off the side of the runway into a wheat field.”
The aircraft traveled 25 to 30 feet, and the right wing and empennage – an arrangement of stabilizing surfaces at the tail – were substantially damaged, according to the pilot of that first crash.
Kelly Crittenden, airport manager, said the pilot in Friday’s crash was transported to St. John’s in Tulsa with a head injury and will be in the ICU Friday night. The pilot's name had not been disclosed at press time Friday evening.
“The [Federal Aviation Administration] has been here to look at the airplane and they’ve already looked at it and left,” said Crittenden. “I don’t know what happened, as I didn’t see [the crash]. I just got there after it happened.”
Assistant Fire Chief Mark Whittmore said they were monitoring the fuel of the crashed aircraft for safety purposes.
The airport was closed for a few hours Friday morning, but Crittenden said they are back open for business.
The Tahlequah Police Department, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, TFD, and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol responded to the crash site. The FAA is still investigating.