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Two men killed in plane crash

GALLMAN – A plane crash near the Copiah County Airport Tuesdayafternoon claimed the lives of two men, both members of the localpilot community in Brookhaven.

Copiah County Chief Deputy Tony Hemphill confirmed that flightinstructor Gerry Mosley, 54, of Wesson, and 34-year-old StephenDavis, a city firefighter from Brookhaven, were killed shortlyafter 3:30 p.m. Tuesday when the small, single-engine aircraft theywere flying crashed and burned in an open field off Lilly Road. Thecrash happened approximately a half-mile from the airport.

Hemphill said both men were pronounced dead at the scene. Hesaid witnesses from the airport rushed to the crash site and wereable to pull Mosley from the wreckage, but were unable to extractDavis due to the intensity of the flames.

“Witnesses from the airport said the aircraft made a circle inthe air (shortly after takeoff),” Hemphill said. “They heard theengine shut off, heard the impact, saw the smoke and rushedover.”

Mosley – who officials said was piloting the plane – was acertified flight instructor at Copiah County Airport, and Davis wasa member of the Brookhaven Fire Department and a reserve deputywith the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department. Davis was also anaircraft technician and licensed pilot, Hemphill said.

Copiah County Coroner Ellis Stuart said Mosley and Davis wererestoring the plane and had taken it up for a test flight.

The Federal Aviation Administration inspected the crash site andis conducting an investigation. Hemphill said the official cause ofthe crash would come from the FAA, and an autopsy has beenscheduled for both victims.

Witnesses and fellow pilots pointed to a small, broken branchhigh above Lilly Road and said the plane struck the treetop withits left wing.

Paul Barnett, chairman of the Brookhaven Municipal Airportadvisory committee, believes reports that the plane struck a treewhile in a powerless glide. He alleged the plane, which heidentified as a Zenair 801, struck two trees before flipping overonto its back and crashing into the field.

Barnett said the men were likely attempting to land the plane inthe open field after losing engine power and determining they couldnot make it back to the Copiah County Airport.

“They were on the downwind leg, turning to the base… that’swhen the engine apparently lost power,” he said. “With the windcoming out of the south, it was enough such that they were unableto glide to the runway, so therefore their intended point oflanding was the open field.”

Barnett said he retraced the flight in his own plane lateTuesday while moving one of Mosley’s aircraft back toBrookhaven.

“I put myself in the same position as they were,” he said. “Theywere definitely aiming for the field.”

Barnett said he flew with Mosley Friday, calling him a closefriend.

“We spoke every day,” Barnett said of Mosley. “He was a friendto all. He was very giving, a very unselfish individual who woulddo anything for anyone. He was a competent pilot, competentmechanic and wonderful father.”

Brookhaven Mayor-elect Les Bumgarner said the entire city issaddened by the loss of Davis.

“Steve was a brave and courageous firefighter – a real man’sman, and one of our better firemen,” he said. “This really puts allthese election concerns in perspective.”