Pilot killed in Lenoir County had “light on the wing” before crop duster crashed

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A pilot who died in a plane crash two weeks ago told a friend on the phone that he had a “light on the wing” before his crop duster crashed in front of a crowd at the Kinston Drag Strip.

William James Brinkley had finished a full day of crop spraying on June 17th, according to a preliminary report released this afternoon by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The crash of the Air Tractor AT-402B was caught on video by at least one of the spectators who was attending a race that night. No one on the ground was hurt in the mishap.

The NTSB says a friend of Brinkley was talking to him via a hands-free Bluetooth device.

She told federal investigators that Brinkley was leaving the Mount Olive Airport and was en route to his home in Dover. The man said he planned to do a flyover during the drag race event.

The woman said Brinkley told her some three to four minutes before the call abruptly ended that there was an issue with a “light on the wing.” She told investigators that she noticed the engine noise increase and it became “higher in pitch.”

The noise was constant until the call was dropped, according to the report.

A witness told the NTSB that the crop duster “dove down” over the pond, and then “went vertical.” The man thought he saw the aircraft upsidedown during the maneuver, and when it reached the top of the climb “the propeller was changing speeds when it went upside down.”

The witness said the aircraft rapidly descended, and immediately caught fire when it hit the ground.

The plane hit a chain-link fence, some 60-feet from the actual track.

No cause of the crash has been determined, and it typically takes the NTSB more than a year to finalize these types of reports.

Visitation for Brinkley will be tonight from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at New Testament Baptist Church in Kinston. The man’s funeral service will be held at 1:00 p.m. Friday, also at the church.

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