911 calls released in fatal Mt. Pleasant plane crash

VIDEO: Investigators respond to plane crash near Mt. Pleasant Regional Airport
(L-to-R): Matthew Gaither, Graham Borland (Photo Source: Facebook)
(L-to-R): Matthew Gaither, Graham Borland (Photo Source: Facebook)
Graham Borland (Photo Source: Facebook)
Graham Borland (Photo Source: Facebook)
Matthew Gaither (Photo source: Facebook)
Matthew Gaither (Photo source: Facebook)
(Photo Source: Jessica Burger)
(Photo Source: Jessica Burger)

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - In a 911 call in the moments after a deadly plane crash on Thursday at the Mount Pleasant Regional Airport, a caller told dispatchers she didn't know what happened but noticed a small aircraft went down on land.

"Oh good God! I do not know exactly what happened. We have an airplane down, an airplane crash," the caller said.

The witness also said she could not see any signs of fire from the plane, a single-engine Cessna 150 that crashed into a marsh about 200 yards from the airport Thursday morning, killing 20-year-old Matthew Gaither of Johns Island and his flight instructor, 33-year-old Graham Borland of North Charleston during a training flight.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board towed the wrecked plane from the marsh on Friday to Atlanta, where a detailed examination of the wreckage will take place. Investigators say they are taking photographs and talking to witnesses.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Stephen Stein extended condolences to the victims' families at a Friday afternoon press conference.

Stein said they are also examining the plane's instruments for clues as to the cause of the crash. After documenting the crash site, the NTSB will take the wreckage to Atlanta for a more thorough investigation.

A preliminary report is expected within five to ten days, however the full investigation could take 12 months, Stein said.

The plane crashed at approximately 11:36 a.m., roughly 200 yards from the north end of a runway at the Mount Pleasant Regional Airport on Thursday, according to Charleston County Aviation Authority spokesperson Charlene Gunnells.

Early indication is that the plane was taking off when it went down, but it will be up to federal investigators from the FAA and the NTSB to piece together exactly what caused the crash.

The plane, a Cessna 150, was on a training flight at the time of the crash, according to the plane's owner, Clark Hanger, a co-owner of Hanger Aviation. Hanger says the plane was being used for a training flight at the time of the crash.

Inspector Chip Googe with the Mount Pleasant Police Department said that there have been other crash incidents before at the airport but most have been minor.

"We have had other incidents, it's been a while," Googe said."We have had some minor crashes and some others at this airport."

The airport is used primarily by recreational and leisure fliers, Gunnells said. The facility is one of two general aviation airports owned by the CCAA and is operated by Atlantic Aviation.

The crash happened close to a town home complex in the Park West subdivision, which gave some residents a scare.

"We've always wondered if it possibly could occur, that it could happen, but obviously it could and it did and there's not much you can do about it," resident Bill Henderson said.

According to Gaither's Facebook, he was studying at Trident Technical College and graduated from James Island Charter High School in 2012.

A former teacher at the school had fond memories of Gaither.

"I would describe him as a spirited young man full of life and an avid competitor on several sports teams," said the teacher who wanted to remain anonymous.

Late Friday, the Gaither family announced through its attorney that a scholarship was being set up in memory of Matthew at Wells Fargo. The Matthew Cole Gaither Memorial Aviation Scholarship Fund will help fund other people who hope to go into aviation, according to attorney Salah Hibri.

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