Originally created 06/19/03

Wreckage recovered from fatal plane crash



The wreckage from the Monday plane crash that killed Ed and Leslie Johnson was salvaged from the Phinizy Swamp this morning.

A helicopter owned by Hotlanta Air Crane made four trips to the crash site, located about 200 yards into the swamp. Using a dangling crane, the helicopter lifted aircraft pieces one at a time and took them to a waiting trailer.

"As you can see, the airplane is in pretty bad shape," said Chris Cartwright, of Atlanta Air Recovery and Storage, which assisted in the salvage process.

The helicopter first lifted the plane's right engine and tail. The right engine became disconnected from the plane during the crash and had bent back over the right wing, recovery officials said. The tail, however, was cut from the plane by Atlanta Air Recovery for an easier lift of the fuselage.

On the helicopter's second trip, a lift was unable to be made because water was weighing the fuselage down too much, Mr. Cartwright said. To alleviate weight on the plane, workers then removed a wing.

After that, the wing and a second engine was salvaged, followed by the fuselage, which had been gutted by fire.

After the recovery, Mr. Cartwright said it appeared the right wing seemed to be the first part of the plane that hit ground during the crash.

"As soon as the wing ruptured, it pretty much ignited," he said.

Now, the remains of the plane will be sent to an Atlanta Air Recovery storage yard in Griffin, Ga., where the National Transportation Safety Board will piece the plane back together and continue its investigation.

NTSB officials said the investigation could take six months to a year to complete.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3904 or preston.sparks@ augustachronicle.com