NTSB member Robert Sumwalt Thursday said that a Hawker Beechcraft 390/Premier I aborted its landing at Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport, Ga., Wednesday night, before crashing nearby, killing five of seven aboard. The flight originated at John Tune Airport, Tenn., and was carrying staff from a specialized medical clinic, the NTSB said. At about 8:30 p.m. local time, the jet's left wing was severed upon impact with a 60-foot concrete pole located roughly one quarter mile from the end of the airport's 5,500-foot runway. Fuel leaked and ignited. Sumwalt described the composite jet's wreckage as "severely fragmented," adding that identifiable features of the plane were "almost completely destroyed by fire." Weather was clear with light winds at the time of the crash. First reports said that at least one of the survivors was a pilot.
The pilots of the jet were familiar with the airport and the aircraft had previously been observed to be in "pristine" condition, according to the airport's general manager, Keith Bounds, who spoke with the Washington Post. Bounds said the crew had closed out their flight plan via electronic message prior to arrival and there were no obvious physical signs indicating the jet had touched down. The crash caused local power outages and ignited a small brush fire. The NTSB said Thursday that security camera footage had been recovered from the airport but it had not yet been reviewed and a flight data recorder had not been immediately located. Sumwalt said remaining pieces of the jet that survived the fire covered a distance of 100 yards adding, "You walk up and you say to yourself, 'where is the airplane?'" The flight's two survivors were taken to area hospitals.