Officials: Pilot from Aiken killed in crash in NC mountains

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Friday, March 15, 2019
News 12 at 11

MACON COUNTY, N.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A plane heading to Aiken plunges into the North Carolina Mountains, killing the pilot.

Recovery operations by the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad are underway after Huttleson's plane went down near the Macon and Jackson County line in North Carolina.

News 12 spoke with neighbors of Huttleson's who are shocked to hear he's gone. Neighbors who knew Gary Huttleson remember him as a kind-hearted man.

"Always speaks when I'm outside, asks if I need help with anything, just a super nice fella," said Andrew Siders.

Andrew Siders says the community is deeply saddened since the news came out that crews found the wreckage of Huttleson's one-engine plane earlier this evening.

Air traffic control lost Huttleson's signal as he flew over Whiteside Mountain between Highlands and Cashiers.

"I was shocked. I knew he was supposed to be flying into the Aiken airport. It's sad. It makes me feel terrible," said Siders.

Marissa Lee didn't know Gary as well but says she would always see him around the neighborhood.

"I didn't even know that he flew planes, which is awesome. But I mean, it's so close to home. Even if I didn't know him, it really upsets me," said Lee.

Huttleson, who works at Y-12 in the Knoxville area, was flying home to Aiken at the end of the work week

Friends of the family we spoke to say he commutes via plane, spending around 4 days a week in Tennessee.

Huttleson found new work after the MOX project closed down at SRS.

"We're a family here. Everyone knows everyone, even if we don't know everybody on a personal level just because we live so close together. We always look out for each other," said Lee.

Investigators are still piecing together the crash site now. Huttleson was the only person on board at the time.

Lee says she hopes they figure out what caused this tragic accident and is praying for Gary's family.

"I think everyone deserves some closure, and I definitely feel for my neighbor, and I hope we can comfort her as much as we can," said Lee.

Those recovery operations will continue to hopefully help figure out what might have caused the crash. It’s still under investigation by NTBS and our hearts go out to the Huttleson's family.

News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

MACON COUNTY, N.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- 59-year-old Gary Huttleston from Aiken died when his small plane crashed into a North Carolina mountain.

The flight path he was supposed to take when he left Knoxville was supposed to be 200 miles and take an hour and a half.

But about 45 minutes in they lost contact. The single-engine plane was supposed to land in Aiken.

Search crews found what was left of the plane afternoon. Now the recovery effort begins.

The search for a missing plane and pilot ended with wreckage found and no survivors.

"He could literally be out in the middle of nowhere," said Andrew Siders, Huttleston's neighbor.

It’s registered to this Aiken man, Gary Huttleston. The plane took off yesterday in Knoxville, Tennessee at about 5:30 p.m. but never made it to its destination at the Aiken Regional Airport.

"Literally today I saw that and I was kind of shocked. I knew he was supposed to be flying into the Aiken airport,” said Siders.

The plane was last located by air traffic control about 6:15 in the Whiteside Mountain area.

As crews look through the wreckage, neighbors are in disbelief.

Andrew Siders has been neighbors with Huttleston for two years

"He's a super nice guy. He always speaks anytime I'm out there. Offers to help if I need something. So a super nice fella," said Siders.

Officials say it dropped into the remote and rugged area in the North Carolina Mountains. It was found by Glenville-Cashiers rescue squad with no survivors.

"Wow. I mean it's such a dense area. Those North Carolina Mountains are so dense,” said Siders.

It is a tiny single-engine plane called the Mooney M-20-C.

No one else was on board. There are multiple state and local agencies looking to find how this happened.

Search teams are going through the wreckage, but before it was found, they were worried about bad weather in the mountains but we don't know if that played a factor yet.

12:30 p.m.
MACON COUNTY, N.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Gary Huttleston, the pilot from Aiken County whose plane crashed in the North Carolina mountains, has died in the crash.

Huttleston's plane crashed near Cashiers, NC after it took off from Knoxville, TN on Thursday night.

Search crews from Macon and Jackson Counties had been actively searching the area around Whiteside Mountain, in North Carolina, since 6:15 p.m. Thursday. That's the last place the plane was tracked.

The single-engine plane had taken off from Knoxville, Tennessee around 5:30 p.m., the FAA said, and was scheduled to land in Aiken. Crews are searching on the ground due to weather concerns, and the Air Force is assisted.