Leonard Staples heard what he thought was a fallen tree in the back yard of his Bolton Road home. Then smoke and flames filled the sky outside his kitchen window.
“It scared me real bad,” said Staples, who lives about 100 feet from where a small plane went down about 12:10 p.m. “He just missed my house.”
The Cessna 560 crashed in English Park in northwest Atlanta shortly after taking off from Fulton County Airport, Atlanta Fire Rescue Department Sgt. Cortez Stafford said during a news conference at the scene.
Local officials reported three victims had been aboard; none survived. Victims’ names haven’t been released by Thursday evening. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
Stafford said firefighters responding to the scene found aircraft parts scattered across the park’s football field. Once the blaze that created a thick wall of black smoke was extinguished, it was immediately apparent that “we did not have survivors as a result of this plane crash,” he said. “The aircraft is basically completely destroyed. It looks like it slid through the field. Not a lot of pieces left.”
The crash caused some damage to a nearby home, but no other injuries were reported, Stafford added.
The plane was bound for the Millington-Memphis Airport, airport executive director Roy Remington told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. FAA records show the plane is owned by Chen Aircrafts, a “repeat customer” of the Memphis airport, Remington said.
“We’re sincerely impacted by this,” he said. “Our hearts go out to the family members.”
The crash happened in a busy area surrounded by an industrial park and residential areas and is close to I-285. Motorist Reggie Dumas had a harrowing view of the plane’s final moments in the air. Then it seemed to “shoot out of the sky” before crashing to the ground, he told Channel 2 Action News.
“As it was going down, you could see the wings shift back and forth,” he said. “We saw it going straight down.”
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