The wreckage of an ultralight aircraft remains on the ground near Wallace Lake after it crashed killing the pilot, Richard Stafford, who worked as a videographer fr major television networks. (Courtesy of the Catahoula News Booster)
The wreckage of an ultralight aircraft remains on the ground near Wallace Lake after it crashed killing the pilot, Richard Stafford, who worked as a videographer fr major television networks. (Courtesy of the Catahoula News Booster)

Man killed in ultralight aircraft mishap

Published 12:08am Wednesday, July 2, 2014

JONESVILLE — A Jonesville resident died Monday evening after the ultralight aircraft he was piloting crashed near Wallace Lake.

Richard Stafford, 56, was flying the ultralight aircraft on an apparent pleasure trip when he struck the top of a tree and crashed approximately five miles north of Jonesville, Catahoula Parish Sheriff James Kelly said.

The crash happened at approximately 8 p.m. Monday, and Kelly said he was on the scene less than a minute after it happened.

The sheriff said he was able to get on the scene so quickly because he witnessed the crash, the trajectory of which passed over his residence.

“I saw it go over my house, and my sons, grandsons and I ran outside and saw it go over,” he said. “We saw it nosedive.”

Following the crash, Stafford was transported to Riverland Medical Center in Ferriday and was pronounced dead.

Kelly said Stafford was a pilot who had spent many hours in the air and knew what he was doing in the plane.

“He was actually a wildlife photographer who was highly sought after, and he did a lot of his work with the ultralight planes,” Kelly said.

An investigator from the Federal Aviation Administration was in the area Tuesday, Kelly said.

The FAA will not be investigating the matter further, however, because the agency does not have jurisdiction over ultralight aircraft and the cause of the crash will likely remain a mystery, Kelly said.

According to the Experimental Aircraft Association, flying an ultralight aircraft doesn’t require licensure or certification of any kind provided the aircraft meets certain weight requirements and contains only one seat.

Ultralight aircraft is a broad category that can include powered parachutes and traditional fixed-wing vehicles, among other forms.