An 84-year-old professional pilot from Atlanta died this morning when his single-engine aircraft crashed on takeoff at the Gordon County, Ga., airport.
Airport employee Andrew Bennett described pilot Ed Noble as a lifelong salesman, avid tennis player and shag dancer and a "pretty cool guy."
He said Noble, a retired corporate pilot and airplane salesman, drove two hours from his Peachtree City home at least a couple of times a week to fly his homebuilt experimental craft from Tom B. David Field.
Bennett said he and other airport employees were there when Noble took off as usual in his aluminum Sonex. He said there was no clue that anything was wrong.
A few minutes later, "we saw black smoke south of our airport." Within moments, the phone rang and someone reported the crash.
Bennett said the craft was about 800 to 1,000 feet up when it fell from the sky.
"Something happened; we have no idea what caused it," Bennett said. "He didn't make a mayday call or anything."
Sgt. Angie Gilman with Gordon County 911 said the plane was about a mile south of the airport when it crashed. She said Gordon County EMS and fire crews were sent to the site.
Bennett said officials with the Federal Aviation Administration were there and the National Transportation Safety Board was on the way to investigate the crash.