A crop-spraying job ended in tragedy amid wind turbine country in southwest Minnesota.
The plane nose-dived into a soybean field west of Ruthton Friday morning after striking a cable. Investigators say the pilot, 68-year-old James Arnt of Worthington, died instantly.
A bent electrical tower high above this bean field is a telltale sign of tragedy in southwest Minnesota.
“It’s a sad situation, I guess,” farmer Ben Kremer said.
The plane likely struck a wire attached to the tower which monitors wind conditions for nearby turbines. The plane crashed some 500 feet east of the tower.
“We had a lot of responders up there and it’s traumatic for everybody that has to deal with that, not to mention the families involved and everything, but it’s a shock to everybody,” Pipestone County Sheriff Keith Vreeman said.
The farm families who rent the land where the plane went down are also shaken by the crash.
“You never like to hear about that stuff, but it happens, they know the risks, so but yeah, it’s never good,” Kremer said.
Farmers in the area have been dealing with aphids eating up their soybean crop, so sprayers play an important role in preserving their fields for the fall harvest.
“They can take quite a bit of your crop away if you don’t spray them,” farmer Phil Kramer said.
“It’s an important job because they’ve got to get the aphids off the beans and that’s the only way they can do it. It looks to be a dangerous profession,” Vreeman said.
After the plane struck the wire, the cable wrapped around power lines, prompting Xcel to temporarily shut off power to the wind turbines. While crews repair the damage, federal investigators will work to piece together what led up to the crash that claimed the life of a veteran pilot, once honored by the FAA for his safe flying record.
According to his Facebook page, James Arnt first started flying back in 1970.
The sheriff says weather conditions at the time of the crash were cloudy.
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