No survivors in fiery plane crash near General Mills factory in Covington

Two people were killed when a small plane crashed near the General Mills plant in Covington on Thursday evening, officials confirmed.

The small Cessna twin-engine plane came down in a parking lot about 300 yards from the cereal manufacturer’s warehouse, and no one on the ground was injured.

“Obviously this was a devastating crash and there are no survivors,” Covington police Capt. Ken Malcom told reporters from the scene Thursday night.

Newton County Coroner Tommy Davis said Friday neither of the deceased occupants had been identified.

According to Malcom, the propeller plane took off from the Covington Municipal Airport around 6:45 p.m. Witnesses reported hearing the plane’s engine sputter as it struggled to gain altitude while taking off.

According to National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson, the owner was doing flight training and in the midst of “touch-and-go” landing operations when the plane took a nose dive.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

“Suddenly the plane veered to the right, and immediately came straight down and crashed into the lot behind us,” Malcom said, standing outside the General Mills plant, about a half-mile from the airport’s north runway.

The plane went down along Industrial Park Boulevard, just off I-20, and crashed in a lot where tractor-trailers are stored, the police captain indicated. The plane collided with three of the big rigs and exploded on impact, causing a significant post-crash fire that engulfed at least five trailers, Knudson said.

The Cessna 340, built in 1973, was owned by Nixon Enterprises, a New Mexico construction company, according to the FAA’s registry.

Officials confirmed the two deaths and said they were working to identify the victims.

The Federal Aviation Administration and NTSB will investigate the crash, authorities from both agencies confirmed.

An NTSB investigator arrived in Covington Friday morning and began working with the fire department to separate the scorched tractor trailer parts from the aircraft. Knudson said accident investigators will take all of the Cessna’s parts to a different location to examine the plane.

NTSB is expected to release a preliminary report with more details on the crash within two weeks, Knudson said.

Officials anticipate the full investigation will be completed in 12 to 24 months. That’s when the agency will release its final report, which will include the probable cause for the crash.

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