An experienced stunt pilot died in a tragic airshow accident on Saturday at Peachtree-Dekalb Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, reported the New York Daily News. Chilling video of the crash shows what appears to be a failed maneuver out of a steep dive.The pilot's biplane plummeted suddenly into the ground at the Good Neighbor Day airshow in Atlanta, Georgia, at around 4:45 p.m. Saturday. The horrifying accident left children in tears and had first responders who were standing by rushing to the scene of the crash. The aircraft burst into flames immediately upon impact, killing South Carolina-based pilot Greg Connell. Flags were flows at half-staff at PDK after the fatal airshow accident. Wreckage of the stunt plane that crashed during the airshow accident at PDK was so shocking that it prompted an announcer to ask parents to shield their children from seeing the aftermath of the airshow accident.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we've just had an accident," the announcer said according to the New York Daily News. "I want you to turn your children away from the field right now."
According to 11 Alive Atlanta, investigators are still working to determine exactly what caused the accident and forced Connell to lose control of the aircraft. NTSB officials said the "significant post-crash fire consumed most of the plane's cockpit and fuselage, killing the 50-year-old pilot and destroying much of the wreckage."
The biplane was a Pitts Special, which is a type of light, aerobatic aircraft used mainly for stunts and competition flying. According to PDK officials, this is the first airshow accident of its kind to happen at the Good Neighbor Day event in almost 30 years. Crews were back out at the scene Sunday, working through the wreckage and laying out the parts.
"They hope to try to piece together what happened in the moments leading up to the crash."Local airport officials will reportedly continue working with the FAA and NTSB to determine the cause of Saturday's airshow accident, but say the investigation could take from nine months to one year before it is completed.
The event drew vintage aircraft, as well as specially designed stunt planes like the one Connell was in when it crashed. In the moments before the accident occurred, raw video shows two planes crossing paths close to the ground. The camera follows one as it climbs into the sky, appearing to dive against the wind, but the second plane does not pull up and then crashes suddenly into the ground.
WSB Radio Announcer Mark McKay, who emceed the airshow, told AJC.com that the plane hit the ground and broke into pieces.
"I see a tire fly off and then it catches fire in the grassy area."Gary Ward was the pilot of the second plane flying during Saturday's airshow accident. He told Channel 2 Action News that he didn't hear calls of distress leading up to the crash and had no idea his friend was having trouble.
"Greg flew underneath me and I had no idea Greg crashed like a second later."Ward is listed as Connell's instructor and mentor on his website.
"I came back in the show for the next maneuver," Ward continued. "We did individual maneuvers at that point, and I went ahead and did my next maneuver, not knowing that Greg had crashed."[Photo via Twitter]