FAA investigates a fatal Sumter County plane crash - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

FAA investigates a fatal Sumter County plane crash

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May 4, 2008

Sumter County -- A pile of molten metal is all that's left of a 1948 Beech A-35 airplane. "It was like two minutes after we heard them take off. It come up, and I told the others it look like he was going to do a trick," said Southerfield Airport Mechanic, Chad Williams

42-year old Robert Brian King was the pilot. And 42-year old Manley Darryl Garrison and 28-year-old Ryan Jones were passengers. All three were killed.

The airplane took off from the runway making it about 50-feet into the air. That's when witnesses say it made a sharp left, crashing down next to the taxiway exploding into a ball of flames.

"It was magnesium burning, and there was nothing you can do. You couldn't put the fire out. Even when the fire department put water on it; it just lit up like candles," said Williams.

"With the condition of the propeller, it appears that the plane went up in full power," said Sumter Sheriff, Pete Smith, which only makes investigators question why the plane went down.

"That's one reason FAA and the National Board of Safety are coming out of Washington. Each piece has to be analyzed, and they will go through all of the components of the engine," said Smith.

Witnesses say that they didn't hear the pilot take the usual amount of time to take off. "Me and the other guy, we didn't hear the plane idle up. It confirms your oil pressure, your power, all of the above. Everything that says you are good to go before you can take off," said Williams.

Despite the reason, the incident is tragic. "It makes you think about the families. They may have daughters and sons. It's just bad," said Williams. And now investigators are working to bring answers to family members who are mourning from their loss.

The three men were on their way back to Bessemer, Alabama after spending the day at a Hodges Hobbies model air show in Sumter County.

SoutherField Airport is still in service.

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