Pilot remembered as ‘good friend of many’ after crop duster accident

Published 10:23 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2023

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NATCHEZ — The Miss-Lou is mourning the loss of a friend, husband, father and much-needed service provider to the farming industry.

Casey Novak, owner of Ferriday Flying Service, was killed Tuesday morning in a plane crash. Novak was a crop duster.

“Casey was a good friend of mine and a good client. He was a good friend of many, particularly among those who fly hot air balloons,” said Curtis Moroney of Natchez. “We first met when we started riding mountain bikes together. And then we did balloon together.”

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In fact, Novak was in attendance at last weekend’s 38th Annual Natchez Balloon Festival.

“He could come off as being gruff, very direct. He was honest and straightforward and you always knew where he stood on things. At the same time, he was a funny guy. He always had a joke or something sharp and witty to say. He seems like he was tough and rough, but he loved cats. He had several he kept at the flying service and at the shop. He had a soft heart, as well,” Moroney said.

“He was always around when we were ballooning. When he was up flying and we were up in the balloons, he would always make a pass and leave a smoke trail or would dip his wings, his way of saying hello with his planes.”

In addition to many missing his wit and heart, Moroney said many farmers will miss Novak’s tremendous work.

“I feel for the farmers. So many people in our community depended on him for the work he did. I think he really valued his customers and took a lot of pride in what he did for them. He felt a lot of responsibility to get stuff done.

“I talked to him last week or the week before last and he said the season was winding down. He was still putting out some seed and things like that. He has always been there for those farmers,” Moroney said. “He will be missed by a lot of people in lots of different ways. Casey was an interesting, engaging and entertaining character.”

The National Transportation Safety Board posted on its social media that the agency is investigating a Tuesday crash of an Air Tractor 502B airplane near Vidalia.

Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said many heard or saw the plane flying low by the river before it crashed in the woods Tuesday morning.

“I heard the plane go over and it was so low it scared me,” Craft said.

Authorities at Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office also responded to the crash.

CPSO public information officer Brandy Spears said that at 9:12 a.m. a 911 caller stated that the plane went down near BASF on Louisiana 131.

Editor’s note: Sabrina Robertson and Jan Griffey contributed to this article.