Friend of pilot involved in crash says he was 'very experienced'

Don Barnes, chief pilot of Aiken Air Service, is a friend of the pilot. (WRDW-TV)
Don Barnes, chief pilot of Aiken Air Service, is a friend of the pilot. (WRDW-TV)
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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013

THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW) -- News 12 is learning more about the pilot of the plane that crashed in McDuffie County Wednesday night.

Rick Trammell is the owner of Executive Shuttle of South Carolina, which is based in Greenwood, S.C.

"The thing that the flight community wonders is what happened because Rick was an excellent pilot. Very experienced and flown very many different types of airplanes," said Don Barnes, chief pilot of Aiken Air Service.

Barnes has known Trammell for about 15 years and says he would often fill in for him to fly The Vein Guys staff.

"I flew back up for these doctors, I've flown those doctors many times," Barnes said.

He says he was shocked to hear about the deadly crash and even more shocked when he found out who the five victims were, especially Dr. Steven Roth.

"Real nice people, good, friendly people, I liked Dr. Roth a lot. And he was always prompt, always on time, very professional and had a lot of respect for him," Barnes said.

News 12 got a look inside an airplane similar to the one they were flying in last night.

"The door was at the front between the cockpit and passenger area. But there would be a little potty seat back here where you could put the seventh person," Barnes said.

Barnes said the door position could be key when it comes to recreating the accident, determining why five people didn't make it out alive.

"It's just too early to speculate on whether it's equipment failure or a pilot error, but I have high regard for Rick's skill and expertise," Barnes said.

The crash will be investigated thoroughly by the National Transportation Safety Board, but Barnes says he wants to make sure people remember one thing.

"I would not let this deter anyone from flying," he said. "There's going to be accidents in automobiles and aircrafts."

Click here to read the latest updates on the plane crash.

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