COVINGTON, Ga. — Covington Police were still awaiting word this week from state forensics investigators about the identity of two people killed when the small plane in which they were traveling crashed and exploded on impact in a parking area near a manufacturing plant in northeast Covington.
Covington Police spokesperson Capt. Ken Malcom said Monday his agency had not received notification from the GBI Crime Lab in Decatur about formal identification of the two victims who were traveling aboard the Cessna 340 aircraft that crashed into parked tractor-trailers about 300 yards from the General Mills plant last week.
No one on the ground was injured in the Thursday, April 21, crash, he said.
“This is a horribly tragic situation. We are working very hard on leads to help identify the two victims,” Malcom said Friday. "Please keep them and their families in your prayers.”
Spokesperson Peter Knudson of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said an NTSB investigator began working with the Covington Fire Department Friday to separate burned tractor-trailers from the remains of the twin-engine aircraft so it could be inspected at another location.
Knudson confirmed the plane’s owner was receiving flight instruction from another individual using a training technique called “touch-and-go landings” — briefly landing the plane and taking off quickly — when the incident occurred.
The incident was reported around 6:45 p.m. after the plane took off about a half-mile from the crash site at Covington Municipal Airport.
Malcom said it traveled in a northeast direction before going down and crashing into tractor-trailers stored in an isolated area on the General Mills grounds about 100 yards east of the Harland Drive entrance to the plant off Industrial Boulevard.
He said witnesses told police they could hear the plane appearing to have engine trouble and problems gaining altitude before it "suddenly veered sharply to the right and went down, crashing into four empty tractor-trailers" and immediately exploding.
"When public safety officials arrived, the plane and the trailers were fully engulfed in flames," he said.
Malcom said firefighters, police and Newton County Coroner Tommy Davis later discovered two deceased passengers aboard the aircraft.
He said plane crashes involving fatalities around Covington Airport have been rare in his three decades with the city police department.
According to information from the NTSB, the agency will issue a preliminary report about two weeks after any incident it investigates. A preliminary report will contain factual information collected on the scene but will not have a cause.
The probable cause will be included in a final report which could take up to two years to complete, according to the agency.