Local News

Crop-Dusters Remain Grounded By FAA

Posted September 24, 2001

— The

Federal Aviation Administration

grounded crop-dusters this weekend. The Washington Post reported the reason is because three men -- including one of the hijackers -- asked about crop dusters while they were in Florida earlier this year.

Wayne Slaughter took his first plane ride when he was just a child and he was hooked. Today, he sprays crops, drops seeds, and sprinkles fertilizer from his Air Tractor 301. His life changed Tuesday of last week.

"Our business was shut down like all other flights were shut down immediately, but we have never got upset about that because we are Americans too," he said.

The order went out to ground all civilian aircraft, but agricultural aviation is timed to crops.

"As it drug on, it got to be more and more of a hardship on everybody and they finally let us go back to flying on that Friday of that week," he said. "But then again on Sunday, they grounded us again because evidently, the FBI or someone had gotten some new information."

Slaughter said the FBI contacted him because there was some concern that the crop-duster planes may be prime tools for terrorists.

"They wanted to make sure that we have them secured when we are not around them and they want to know about any suspicious people -- types of people coming up and asking questions about airplanes," he said.

Slaughter is taking several steps to secure his fleet and make sure it is used only for defoliating cotton and planting seed.

The FBI says the terrorists may have wanted the planes for another attack - using chemical or biolgoical weapons. Agents hope all of this attention will keep any attacks like that from happening now.

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