CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. — Authorities confirm a 24-year-old flight instructor was one of three people killed when two small planes collided near the West Georgia Regional Airport Wednesday.
Taylor Stone, a native of East Ridge, Tennessee, worked for Falcon Aviation Academy in Newnan. She had a 20-year-old student pilot in the plane with her. Authorities have not identified him, saying only that he was in the country on a visa.
“Two witnesses [saw] both aircraft collide midair. It appeared they both were on a landing pattern,” Carroll County Fire Chief Scott Blue said.
Two single-engine aircraft, a Diamond DA20C1 and a Beech F33A, collided near the airport at 10:54 a.m. on Wednesday. One of the planes is registered to an address in College Park. The other is registered to Falcon Aviation school in Newnan.
William Barczak once took lessons from Stone.
“She was a really great teacher,” Barczak told CBS46. “I was in disbelief because she was so strict in the cockpit. She went by the books, everything step by step. I just couldn’t believe it. I was in shock.”
Falcon representatives arrived at the West Georgia Regional Airport but had no comment about the crash.
Authorities identified the pilot of the other plane as William Lindsey, 79, of College Park.
The FAA and the NTSB were on scene most of Wednesday evening gathering evidence to try to determine what led to the crash.
“Basically, both planes were coming in on a final approach at the same time, and it appears one may not have seen the other and sat down on top of it and they tumbled into the ground,” Carroll County Sheriff’s Deputy Captain Jeff Richards said.
Carroll county airport is “non-controlled”
West Georgia Regional Airport is what’s called a non-controlled airport, which means there is no operating air traffic control tower. The FAA has regulations to control traffic, but pilots are largely responsible for taking care of themselves at the nearly 20,000 non-controlled airports that exist across the country.
Neither aircraft had a voice recorder on board, so investigators must rely on eyewitness accounts and evidence from the wreckage as they piece together what happened.
Joe Fagendes of LaGrange is a retired Delta Air Lines pilot and current General Aviation Pilot who has flown for more than 50 years. He said regional aircraft often take off and land at these airports.
Fagundes said, “At non-controlled airports, just because there’s no control tower, it doesn’t mean it’s unsafe. Safety of flying is the responsibility of the pilot.
“It’s not a dangerous operation just because you have certain patterns to fly at non-controlled towers, a certain altitude you have to fly,” he said.