Four people are dead after a Cessna Citation crashed on takeoff from Atlanta Fulton County Airport (FTY) Thursday, among them the first Chinese aviator to circumnavigate the globe.
There was no indication of trouble in communications between the Citation 560 and the tower before the accident, which occurred just seconds after takeoff. The aircraft was destined for Millington-Memphis Airport in Tennessee, according to the FAA.
The Citation, N188WC, took off at approximately 12:15 p.m. EST. Seconds later, it crashed at a corner of English Park, approximately 1.5 miles from the departure end of Runway 8.
“I heard a boom, boom, boom,” said Leonard Staples, 78. The wreckage came to rest against his backyard fence. “I thought a tree fell on my house.”
Atlanta firefighters rushed to the scene but found no survivors.
Among the victims was Wei Chen, 47, a popular businessman in Memphis, as well as an aviation pioneer of sorts. Flying a Daher TBM700, he completed an around-the-world trip that began and ended in Memphis in 2011. In the course of his journey, he became the first pilot ever to land a single-engine, privately owned airplane at Beijing Capital World Airport (PEK), according to his website. Money Wei raised from the adventure benefited St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, according to his website.
Wei wrote about the trip soon after in a book he titled “Around the World in 69 Days: What Would You Attempt To Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?”
The flight captured the imagination of Memphis residents, including singer-songwriter Tory Thomas, who was inspired by Wei’s exploits to write and produce “The Peace Above." The song, which became Wei’s theme song during the trans-global flight, earned Thomas an award from the Memphis Music Foundation.
The cause of the accident is still under investigation.