What we know about Friday morning’s Atlanta plane crash

Friday morning’s small plane crash on Interstate 285 was a sad event that ended the lives of all four people aboard. It was a fiery accident that shut down the freeway for about five hours and gripped an entire city looking to know what happened.

Since it will likely be a topic of conversation – maybe even a “Where were you?” moment for Atlantans – I’ve been collecting some known facts about the incident that you can share with your friends over the weekend.

– The plane, a Piper PA-32 aircraft, took off from DeKalb-Peachtree Airport at 10:10 a.m. EDT Friday morning. Earlier in the morning, it landed at PDK at 9:15 a.m., coming from Asheville, North Carolina.

– The aircraft was bound for Oxford, Mississippi, as the four people aboard the plane were flying to the University of Mississippi for the school’s graduation ceremonies. The pilot was Greg Byrd, 53. He was flying with his two sons, Phillip and Christopher, as well as Christopher’s fianceé, Jackie Kulzer. Christopher and Jackie also brought their family dog along on the flight.

– Authorities arrived at the scene about one minute after the crash, but couldn’t get near the wreckage to assist any possible survivors aboard the plane because the fire from the explosion was burning too hot.

– There were no additional injuries on the ground.

– WSB-TV sources said Greg Byrd cited an issue getting the plane to climb upon takeoff before stating, “Hey, we’re going down.”

– NTSB officials will spend about two weeks reconstructing the aircraft to investigate the cause of the crash, and it’s expected to take six months to a year to determine the final cause. The Piper PA-32 does not contain a black box.

– Weather conditions were essentially ideal for flying – mostly sunny and light winds.

Here’s a photo of all four victims, from WSB-TV:

Atlanta plane crash victims

Photo: AP/David Goldman

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