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Copter pilot dies in crash while keeping crops from freezing

January 2, 2013 |  8:37 pm

The pilot of a helicopter that went down in Central California was found dead Wednesday, Kern County sheriff’s officials said.

The helicopter, which was one of two helicopters flying overhead to keep crops from freezing, was reported missing about 6:20 a.m. The pilot of one helicopter observed the second helicopter go down, sheriff’s officials said in a statement.

Sheriff’s deputies and county fire officials began a ground and air search and found the wreckage about 9:50 a.m. in a grape vineyard near Famoso-Porterville Highway and Spangler Road, southeast of Delano.

The pilot was pronounced dead at the scene. Her identity has not been released pending positive identification and notification of next of kin.

During cold spells, helicopters help conduct aerial frost control, moving warmer air down on crops in danger of freezing.

There was heavy fog at the time of the crash, limiting visibility, officials said, and the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash.

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--Rosanna Xia

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