Robert and Sandra Denton, Michigan couple killed in mystery plane crash in Georgia during 400 mile trip. Described as seasoned pilots who died doing what they loved.
A Michigan couple described by relatives as ‘seasoned pilots’ were killed on Wednesday after their single-engine plane crashed into a field in Georgia, mere miles from their final destination.
Robert and Sandra Denton of Williamsburg, Michigan, were flying their family plane from Florida when they lost control and plummeted around 2:30 p.m. in Watkinsville, a town roughly 8 miles southwest of Athens.
The couple had embarked on a 417-mile trip, and were only 21 miles from landing at their final destination in Winder, Georgia when they crashed, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office said.
The Cessna 177B airplane was destroyed upon impact, Sheriff James Hale told the Athens Banner-Herald.
The damage was so extensive that first responders were unable to immediately determine the type of craft that crashed.
Why flying a small plane still bears risk
Robert and Sandra’s family said they were ‘devastated’ about the collision and that the duo, 76 and 75, respectively, were “seasoned pilots.”
‘While taken from us far too soon, we find comfort knowing they were together and doing what they loved, flying,’ the Denton family said in a statement.
‘Robert and Sandra lived life to the fullest and were two of the most thoughtful and loving people you could know.’
Adding, ‘We are sincerely grateful for the outpouring of support shown to our family from Robert and Sandra’s many friends and neighbors. We also wish to extend our gratitude to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and first responders who were at the crash scene, as well as the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office in Michigan for their assistance.’
The couple were described as ‘beloved residents’ of Williamsburg and Clare, Michigan, as well as The Villages retirement community in Florida.
It remained unclear whether pilot error caused the plane to go down as the cause of crash continued to remain under investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board and FAA were leading investigations.
Defective parts and dangerous design are often cited as reasons for small plane crashes beyond pilot error according to a 2014 USA Today study. The study outlined instances in which small plane manufacturers misled regulators and masked the root cause of small aircraft carnage.