MOUNT AIRY, N.C. – A twin-engine plane crashed Friday as it tried to land amid low fog at a small airport in northwest North Carolina, killing all six people on board, officials said.
Stephanie Conner, a Surry County emergency services shift supervisor, said investigators had confirmed there were no survivors.
Surry County officials said the King Air C90A crashed in a neighborhood near the Mount Airy airport around 11:30 a.m. The plane split in half after falling into a grassy area between two homes. No one on the ground was hurt, said Warren Woodberry, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
"I ran to the plane and I (saw) the guy in the cockpit," neighborhood resident Darrell Baker told The Mount Airy News. "He looked pretty bad and I knew I couldn't help him."
The plane took off in Cedartown, Ga., Woodberry said, and the passengers were on their way to Primland, a hunting and golf resort in Meadows of Dan, Va., about 25 miles north of the Mount Airy airport, according to Kelvin Boyette, the airport manager.
"The hunting resort van was actually waiting for them, and (the driver) was the only person who saw the plane come out of the clouds," Boyette said.
Boyette said the plane was attempting to land when it missed on its approach and may have been trying to circle back for another attempt before it crashed.
"There was a really low fog, it was raining a little bit and an occasional sleet pellet. But visibility was more than a 2 1/2 miles," he said.
The plane is registered to Blue Sky Airways in Dallas, Ga., according to FAA records. One of the men on board was identified by his cousin, Ronald Rakestraw, as John Rakestraw, a pilot who owned a construction company that had the same address listed on the plane's registration.
Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, said that Rakestraw held a fundraiser for Perdue at his home during the governor's re-election campaign.
Also on board were Paulding County, Ga., Commissioner Hal Echols and developer Steve Simpson, said Jeff Ragsdale, a son of Paulding County Commissioner Larry Ragsdale.
Boyette said resort-bound hunters often fly though the airport, and the plane was the only in-bound flight expected at the airport Friday. A woman who identified herself as a Primland resort manager but declined to give her name said the company had no comment.
Debris from the crash was largely confined to a small area between the two homes. Firefighters and Surry County sheriff's officials sprayed the site with foam; yellow tape was strung between light poles to block off the site.
"I was in the basement when I heard a loud boom," neighborhood resident Carl Marshall told The Mount Airy News. "It looks like it just fell out of the sky."