Federal Aviation Administration officials are on the scene at a field in Tift County Friday where a small plane crashed this morning.
The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to arrive on scene later Friday night to help investigators determine why the aircraft failed. The pilot was killed in the crash and was the only person on board.
Neighbors said a lot of planes fly over the rural areas near Highway 41 and Red Oak Road in Chula, but they heard something out of the ordinary this morning.
"I heard the plane. I thought it was one of those army planes, but it wasn't. I know now because it was so low, that's why it was so loud," said Kay Ford, Neighbor / Witness.
Kay Ford rushed out of her house after hearing a loud boom she describes sounding like a backfire to see what happened.
"Everything's all scattered everywhere. I saw a baby gate, and I kept thinking there may be a baby," she said.
The Tift County EMS, the Tift/Tifton Fire Department and the Tift County Sheriff's office arrived on scene shortly after the Piper PA 28 aircraft crashed in the field
"This plane is in pieces...several pieces. Our folks have taken photographs of the scene and FAA told us once we get our photographs it was okay to cover the scene there, so that's what we've done with the tarp," said Lt. Col. Robert Brannen, Tift County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators said the pilot was the only one in the aircraft, and was killed once he hit the ground.
But no one knows yet if rainy conditions caused a problem or if there was a mechanical failure.
"I do know that folks do fly in this kind of weather. However, I'm sure there's certain precautions they do need to be aware of. And of course, you've got the mechanical thing as well to look at that aspect of it," said Brannen.
Witnesses who rushed to pull any survivors from the wreckage were horrified by images that will last a lifetime.
"The plane was cut in half, and it was like the engine was down in the ground, and there was smoke coming from it," said Ford.
Investigators said it could take days sifting through the wreckage before any answers are found.
FAA officials said the plane was heading from Merritt Island, Florida to LaGrange, Georgia. Sheriff's officials said they are still working to identify the pilot.
The investigation into the crash could extend into the beginning or middle of next week.
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