Military/Civilian Midair Probed

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The vast majority of midair collisions are in or near the pattern so investigators have their work cut out for them in the tragic meeting of an Air Tractor crop-duster and an Air Force T-37 5,000 feet above the wide-open spaces of Oklahoma on Tuesday morning. The Air Force pilots, instructor Capt. Christopher S. Otis and student 2nd Lt. Roderick V. James, bailed out safely but the Air Tractor pilot, Derek Nach, died. Hunting guide Jerry Mayfield reached the Tweet pilots first and said one of them told him he didn't see the collision coming. There have been similar events, before. Nach was ferrying the brand-new Air Tractor from the plant in Olney, Texas, to its new owner in South Dakota. Investigators have declined detailed comment or speculation on the cause of the collision. The crash occurred near Hollister, Okla., in an area commonly used by the air training wings based at Sheppard AFB near Wichita Falls, Texas. AVweb reported another military/civilian collision in November 2004. The NTSB's current synopsis and probable cause (a PDF file) are available online. After that collision, the F-16 pilot ejected safely and walked to a local house to use the phone. The Cessna pilot was killed.