CARROLLTON, Ga. (AP) – A flight instructor, her student and a third person died Wednesday after two small airplanes collided in midair at a rural airport in western Georgia, where one witness told authorities the pilots may have been trying to land at the same time.
The single-engine planes crashed just before 11 a.m. near the end of the lone runway at West Georgia Regional Airport, said Carroll County Fire Chief Scott Blue. The airport is located in Carrollton, about 45 miles west of Atlanta.
Capt. Jeff Richards of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office identified the deceased flight instructor as 24-year-old Taylor Nicole Stone of East Ridge, Tennessee. Her student, who also died, was identified only as a male, pending notification of his family.
The third fatality, 79-year-old William Lewis Lindsey of College Park, was alone in the other plane, Richards said.
The cause of the deadly collision was under investigation. But Blue said a witness reported the planes looked like they were attempting to land simultaneously.
“Another pilot in the air said it appeared that both of them were trying to land and one came on top of the other,” Blue told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “At this point in time we can’t really confirm that.”
The Federal Aviation Administration said both were single-engine airplanes – a Diamond Aircraft DA20C1 and a Beech F33A.
Blue said a lone pilot was killed in the Beech aircraft registered in College Park, about 40 miles east of the airport. A pilot and passenger died onboard the Diamond plane, which the fire chief said was registered to a company that trains pilots in Newnan, 22 miles to the southeast.
No one survived the crash.
First responders found the wreckage of the two planes all twisted and mixed together.
“Our unit when they first came thought it was one plane,” Blue said. “They were intermixed so much it was hard to identify two planes at first.”
The Federal Aviation Administration said it was investigating the crash in conjunction with the National Transportation Safety Board, which will determine the official cause.