Columbia, SC Private Plane Crash, Feb 1971


Columbia, S.C. (AP) -- A contractor from Newberry, S.C., and four of his workmen were killed when the plane he was piloting crashed while preparing to land at the Columbia Airport Wednesday night.
There was only one survivor of the crash of the twin-engined, six-place silver and blue Aero Commander piloted by the owner, JOHN BILLINGSLEY.
Identity of the others aboard was not immediately available.
The control tower at the airport said the pilot had asked for normal landing instructions and gave no indication of being in any trouble before he made a right turn preparatory to his landing approach.
The plane crashed shortly after 9:40 p.m. in a thicket of scrub oaks in a sandhills area a mile west of the airport. The wreckage was spotted by a search helicopter some three hours later, and rescuers had to cut through deep underbrush to reach it.
The wreckage was almost in one piece, indicating there had been no explosion. Nor did the plane burn.
Although a light freezing rain was falling at the time the pilot talked to the control tower, operators at the tower said commercial and private planes had been taking off and landing without difficulty.
A member of BILLINGSLEY'S family at Newberry, 40 miles northwest of Columbia, said he had taken off with five of his workmen on a flight to a job at Ridgeland in lower South Carolina, near Savannah, Ga., and 100 miles south of Columbia.
An operator at the tower said, "I talked to the pilot and I saw the plane, which was a two-engined aircraft. Then I lost sight of him and had no more radio contact with him."

The Bee Danville Virginia 1971-02-04