Pilot, son likely victims of Jasper plane crash

lfabian@macon.comOctober 19, 2010 

A father and his young son are the apparent victims of Saturday evening’s plane crash in Jasper County.

Coroner Billy Norris is trying to secure dental records to make a positive identification of the two people killed when an amateur-built plane went down in a field after takeoff from a private airstrip, said John Bankhead, GBI spokesman.

The RV-6A aircraft was so badly burned, it took Federal Aviation Administration investigators until Sunday to track the plane’s registration, said Kathleen Bergen, the communications manager of the FAA’s Southern region.

The single-engine plane was owned by and registered to Keith Newcomer, of Arcata, Calif., Bergen said.

Newcomer’s business partner at the Arcata Exchange furniture store, Gene Joyce, said Newcomer was in Georgia visiting his young son, who is believed to be about 7 years old.

Joyce said it is his understanding that Newcomer and his son were the only ones on board when the plane crashed at Garvey Airfield at the Monticello Sky Ranch in the 2400 block of Ga. 212.

“He loved life, and flying was his biggest love,” Joyce said of Newcomer, believed to be in his mid-50s. “He will definitely be missed.”

Joyce said Newcomer divided his time between the northern coast of California and Georgia so he could spend time with the boy.

“He loved his son, so we’re kind of in a cloud right now,” said Joyce, who was still grappling with the news.

A profile on the LinkedIn network describes Newcomer as a pilot, wannabee surfer, dolphin charmer, whale watcher and Scrabble player. He had owned his furniture business for more than 32 years, according to the online profile.

It is not uncommon for avid aviators such as Newcomer to build their own aircraft, Bergen said.

During the process, an FAA-certified design engineer would have to inspect the plane, she said.

The National Transportation and Safety Board will determine the cause of the crash.

The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office referred inquiries to the NTSB.

Jasper County Emergency Management Agency Director Melissa Slocumb said she did not expect a preliminary report until at least midweek.

“We’re just kind of in a wait-and-hold pattern,” she said.

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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