MORGANTON, Ga. - Military investigators were expected to arrive Tuesday in north Georgia at the scene of a Navy plane that crashed in dense woods, killing at least three crew members. The Florida-based T-39N Sabreliner just missed a house when it crashed Monday afternoon and authorities were looking for a fourth person believed to be aboard, officials said.
Fannin County Sheriff's Office Maj. Keith Bosen said Tuesday morning that officials have yet to determine whether the fourth aviator had survived. Naval Air Station Pensacola spokesman Harry White said authorities had not confirmed whether the pilot was among those killed when the training plane went down. No one on the ground was injured, he said.
The plane was part of Training Air Wing 6, which conducts routine cross-country missions through Fannin County, where it crashed, about two hours north of Atlanta, on the edge of the North Carolina and Tennessee borders, White said. Searchers found three bodies and Bosen said there was no evidence that a parachute had deployed.
The twin-jet plane can carry two pilots and seven passengers, according to a Navy Web site. Authorities don't know what caused the plane to go down and were putting together an investigative team, White said. He did not release the victims' names and said he didn't know where the plane had originated.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the agency is not investigating the military crash. Authorities say the plane went down in an area described by residents as having houses scattered among dense trees.
Fuel from the plane also started a brush fire that burned 10 to 15 acres, Bosen said. He said officers were securing the scene as they awaited the arrival of military investigators. In January 2006, a Navy T-39 Sabreliner also based at Naval Air Station Pensacola crashed in a wooded area in northwest Georgia, killing all four aviators aboard. It went down after taking off from Chattanooga, Tenn.