Small plane crashes into St. Simons Island home

Pilot identified as James Ronald Wood, 68, of Brunswick

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – News4Jax has learned the name of the Brunswick man killed in a plane crash early Saturday afternoon when a plane crashed in a residential area near the St. Simons Island airport.?

Officials said 68-year-old James Ronald Wood was in the small biplane just about 1:20 p.m. when it crashed into the roof of a home. No one was home at the time and the pilot was the only casualty.

Neighbors are stunned that this happened in the small community.

News4Jax spoke to people who are a part of the aviation community who said it's not uncommon to see small planes doing tricks, or riding low to the ground. But what happened Saturday shocked those living in the area.

"There's a lot of air traffic here, so it's inevitable sometimes (it's) going to happen," said resident Jim Lee. "I think that's what happened today -- he just got unlucky."


A man out running errands saw the plane just seconds before the crash.

"I looked up at the sky to the left of the runway and saw a plane going nose first, straight down, tail up in the air," said the man, who asked not to be identified.

He said he just thought the pilot was performing a stunt until the plane did not recover.

"It is surreal," he said. "It's sad to know that life was taken. A brief thought is that he was doing everything he could to avoid people and he was trying to make a clean landing with the impossible circumstances."

"It hit so close to home. It's very scary," said Linda Borders.

Borders said she had been home all day and hadn't heard anything, but when she walked outside she saw an ambulance, fire and rescue trucks and the small yellow aircraft crashed and in pieces on the ground.

"My prayers and thoughts go to them," Borders said. "I'll say a prayer every night for them. I'll especially say one tonight for the pilot and his family because it's a terrible loss."

Ed Booth, a pilot and attorney who specializes in aviation issues, said weather was not a factor, as Saturday afternoon had perfect flying conditions.  Booth learned that this was an aircraft registered in the experimental category was home-built about 1995. Wood, who had held a private pilot's license for four years, bought the plane in 2011.

The National Transportation Safety Board, along with flight aviation authorities, will conduct their investigation next.