CRISP CO., GA (WALB) - A pilot is dead and a passenger has been seriously injured in a plane crash that happened at the Crisp County Airport.
Officials said it happened around noon Thursday during takeoff.
Crisp County Sheriff's investigators said the Pilot, Rene St. Julien and his wife, Jan were in the plane when it crashed.
Rene St. Julien was killed on impact, according to officials at the scene. His wife Jan, who was in the back seat of the plane, was seriously injured and had to be cut out of the aircraft. She was taken to a trauma center in Macon.
"It took us several minutes. Probably 15 to 20 minutes at least to get her out, without creating a problem with the plane, tearing it apart, to break it up. Evidently the plane had fueled while it was here, so it was full of fuel," said Crisp County Fire Rescue Chief Ray Lunsford.
Investigators said the couple was in a group of four single-engine planes that had flown in from West Palm Beach early Thursday morning.
According to the Crisp County Sheriff's Office, the plane took off at 12:35 p.m., climbed to about 300 feet, then went into a nosedive to the ground.
The two, who were traveling in an Aeronca Champ single-engine plane, were the third plane to take off in the group.
"Nobody had really seen him take off," said Sheriff Billy Hancock. "They were all busy flying and operating their airplanes when they took off, and realized he wasn't in line. Come back. Two of them landed as one of them taxied back down to the end where he was at."
Officials said the husband and wife were from Port St. Lucie, FL. They were both retired. Rene St. Julien was a retired air traffic controller, and his wife Jan is a retired flight attendant.
The four plane group was traveling to the Wings Over North Georgia Air Show in Rome, GA. None of the other pilots traveling with the St. Julien's wanted to talk on camera Thursday, because they were shaken up.
Crisp County Investigators mapped the scene Thursday afternoon.
The cause of the crash has not been determined.
The Federal Aviation Administration also dispatched an investigator to survey the crash site.