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Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

Local pilot walks away from cropduster crash

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You could ask Mike Bartholomew about his plane crash. You could, that is, but it's three days later and he's planning on being right back in a cockpit, cropdusting.

Saturday morning, 37-year-old Bartholomew was flying south when he struck a power line with a Bart's Flying Service cropdusting plane based out of the Storm Lake Airport. The plane crashed into a cornfield about 50 yards from Highway 175, according to Sac County Sheriff Ken McClure. Moments later, the crash was reported by 911 call.

Bartholomew walked away from the wreck site, about a mile and a half west of Lake View, and was taken by ambulance to Loring Hospital in Sac City, where he was treated and released for only minor injuries. He was back at work Monday at Bart's Flying Service, and was hoping to be cropdusting today.

"It's not so bad. I've just got a few cuts and bruises," he told the Pilot-Tribune.

Bartholomew said he "grew up in airplanes," and in three decades flying, this is the first accident he has been involved in.

"I was spraying a field, about 75 feet off the ground, when I hit the line - and that's about all I can say right now because the insurance investigation is still going on," he said.

Good fortune may run in the family. Mike's dad, Jim "Bart" Bartholomew, has survived two very similar crashes, in 1976 and 1984, in both cases tangling with power lines while cropdusting.

The patriarch of the family business often describes the art of cropdusting with the words of advice that the cropdusting veterans passed on to him years ago - "Hours and hours of sheer boredom accented by a few seconds of sheer terror."

Planes travel at 100-120 mph, as close as five feet above the top of the crop, he said in an earlier interview.

Bart's Flying Service has several planes and pilots at its disposal during busy seasons, and will continue its services, which cover roughly a 30-mile radius area from Storm Lake. The company could not release information on damages or the type of plane involved in the crash.

US 175 was shut down for a portion of Saturday after the crash, and Lake View and Wall Lake residents were left without electricity for a time due to the downed power line.

Sac County deputies, sheriff's reserves, Lake View Police, Wall Lake Fire Department, the Iowa State Patrol, Lake View Ambulance crew, MidAmerican Energy and Iowa DOT all responded to the crash scene.

As of Monday afternoon, the investigation was continuing, McClure said.



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