Private pilot Robert Young has flown in and out of DeKalb-Peachtree Airport for years and while he gives high marks to the facility and its staff, he said taking off from the private field is "sort of scary."
"When you fly out of other smaller airports there’s all kinds of empty space around you," said Young, a hobbyist who pilots a four-seat Cessna 172. "When you fly out of PDK you’re looking at buildings, traffic, the roof of a Wal-Mart. You have to go outside the Perimeter before you find anyplace to put a plane down."
Four people died when their small plane crashed on the eastbound lanes of Interstate-285 Friday morning around 10 a.m., shortly after takeoff from PDK, as it's known in shorthand.
Young never had a problem taking off or landing there, but his flight instructor specifically warned him about PDK's surroundings when he was learning to fly years ago.
"The way my flight instructor put it to me was, 'always be aware taking off from PDK, because you have nowhere to land," Young said.
Judging from the location of the airstrip and crash site, his assessment was that that plane lost power almost immediately and gave the pilot little time and few options. It's possible the pilot may have tried to land on the highway but came in too fast to avoid the collision, he said.
"There’s nowhere else they could have gone," he said. "It looks like they went straight into that wall. It’s pretty much a straight line off the runway. Where else do you put it?"