A new report by federal investigators says that a South Carolina pilot who was killed when his small plane crashed in central Georgia last month reported a slight loss of oil pressure moments before the crash— then said his engine had stopped.
58-year-old Anthony Cabeza of Greer, S.C.; and 71-year-old Julius Gilreath of Greenville, S.C.; were killed when the Piper PA-32 crashed while trying to land at a Macon, Georgia airport on May 27. The pair was flying from Apalachicola, Florida to Greenville Downtown Airport.
The preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report said the pilot (Cabeza) of the single-engine plane initially asked air traffic control for permission to land at Macon’s airport after noticing a “slight loss in oil pressure.” The report says air traffic controllers cleared the plane to land on their runway.
However, shortly afterwards, Cabeza told the Macon controller that his engine stopped and the plane was not going to make it to the runway there. He then requested a landing at nearby Robins Air Force Base, but never established communication with the tower there. The plane crashed just under a mile northeast of the base. First responders discovered the wreckage in a heavily wooded area approximately 20 minutes after the last radar and radio communications.
Gilreath was a Greenville-based designer and builder, primarily of medical offices and facilities, according to the Greenville News.