Two South Carolina men died in a plane crash Monday evening after taking off from Apalachicola Regional Airport.
According to the Federal Aviation Authority, Anthony Caveza, 58, and Julius “Gil” Gilreath, 71, both of Greenville, South Carolina, were headed for Greenville Downtown Airport.
Apalachicola airport employee Arthur “Perky” White said Gilreath drove himself to Cleve Randolph Field in a borrowed blue Toyota, which was still parked there on Tuesday morning. He and Gilreath discussed fishing while waiting for Gilreath’s flight to arrive. White believes Gilreath was in the area on a fishing trip.
White said the single engine Piper 32 was number four of seven planes that refueled at the airport on Monday. He said the airport immediately ceased selling fuel after learning of the accident.
“That’s just a precaution,” White said. “It’s the first thing we do in case the crash is fuel related.”
White said the other six planes serviced have arrived safe at their destinations.
FAA records say the plane was registered to FLEBO Air LLC of Greenville, NC. Caveza listed his occupation as commercial pilot on several internet networking sites.
Joe Frasher, manager of the Greenville airport, where many corporate jets land and takeoff, told reporters Caveza had a reputation as a good pilot.
“I don’t know what happened,” Frasher said Tuesday, “But, it had to be catastrophic.”
Gilreath was a Greenville-based designer and builder, primarily of medical offices and facilities. He was a well known philanthropist within his community and established the Gilreath Foundation with his wife, Parry.
A posting on the website of the Aviation Safety Network said the small plane, registration number N4489F, crashed in Warner Robins, Ga around 6:40 p.m.following an in-flight emergency transmission. A post-crash fire ensued. The two occupants onboard received fatal injuries.
The crash site was near runways at Robins Air Force Base and Middle Georgia Regional Airport.
BibbCounty Coroner Leon Jones said the crash site was a dense swamp area, and snakes, mosquitoes and other potential hazards were a hindrance to the recovery of the wreckage.
Around 8:30 p.m., the Georgia Forestry Commission brought in a bulldozer to help cut a path to the plane. The air force base dispatched a large crash truck, and a Houston County light truck was brought in to illuminate the woods after sunset.
Houston County Fire Department, Macon-Bibb Fire Department, Bibb County Sherriff's Office, Macon Police Department, Robins Air Force Base and Georgia State Patrol all responded at the scene.